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“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

No matter what anyone tells you, success is nota lone journey and it is definitely not a static end zone. I believe that success is a continuous journey of mentorship, hardwork and support, working and reworking yourself into your very own definition of success all of which are central to AWiB. As we get ready to celebrate Women of Excellence 2017, I recognize there is a parallel between this concept of success and excellence. Excellence is also a moving ceiling of sorts, constantly challenging us to move forward each time our target is reached as anever expanding personal and collective objective,ever changing, a continuous challenge to be better and do better than we did yesterday.


”Excellence is soaring together to reach our height for the common good of our society.” 


Two weeks ago, I was taking my residential requirement courses at the Oxford Graduate School.   My sociology class professor, Dr. Matthew S. Vos read an article he wrote on “Excellence.”  It reads:

“I am fed up with excellence.  It is everywhere and nowhere.  Googling the word produced more than 100 million hits.  Even incorrect spellings yield hundreds of thousands.  Claims of excellence surround us.  It can be bought; it can be sold.  We boast of it in our schools, workplaces, and churches.  We attach it to catch phrases promoting our hospitals, middle school athletic programs, and mass produced restaurant food. ……  While collaborating on drafting a philosophy of education statement for a college, a well-intentioned colleague piped-up, “Make sure you throw the word ‘excellence’ in there somewhere.... Why excellence?  It did not change the substance of our statement….Shouldn’t excellence be its own testimony? The current version of excellence is a displacement of goals….”


It’s that time of year again fellow AWiBers, Women of Excellence month! I’d like to think of it as my AWiB Christmas. Trust me when I say, I love me some Christmas!I am total ferengi, when it comes to Christmas. I’m the first one to pop out my Santa hat a month before, sing-along to all the jingle tunes all day long, ready for countdown. I’m also one to throw a “Christmas-in-June” themed house party, just for the sake of it, right smack in the middle of summer. But, here I am, here in Ethiopia, where Christmas is just not as I have been used to for so long. So as December slowly creeps by, I’m left to joyous reminiscing of that Christmas spirit I so loved to be immersed in. Now though, I have a different kind of spirit to rejoice about, I call it my Excellence spirit. Not the Christmas spirit, but my Excellence spirit. 


Recently my younger brother,Hirouy, moved back to Ethiopia to begin his new chapter after college and life in the States. With a fresh outlook and a hopeful mindset of his future, his presence instilled in me a feeling of reflection. Having him around after missing him for so long, while he was away, brought a certain calm in me that I hadn’t felt in a while; a calming feeling of hope, of peace and of joy for the new year.


I was recently speaking to a leading Ethiopian feminist activist who has parented two remarkable women and who is now a grandmother to two boys and one girl. She was taken aback when I said that I think that in Ethiopia, becoming a man is as difficult as becoming a woman. Let me explain. The more I learn from parenting my six-year old daughter and my four-year old son, the harder I have come to believe that the path of parenting children of either gender requires a surgeon's precision and a vast amount of the purest love that you can access.


Sometimes, it is the uncomplicated wisdom of a teenager that saves you. I was squatting on the floor of the hospital bathroom, willing my three year old to go 'pee pee.' The chickenpox we were waiting for him to get from his sister was severe enough to land him in the hospital for five days where my life took on a pause. I left his sister with my mother and spent every minute wiping away tears and massaging small swollen feet. I wasn't tired but the magnitude of single motherhood suddenly seemed insurmountable. Leeben is only three and his sister Rekka is six years old. By my calculation, that's another fifteen years of responsibility, of my heart swelling open and shut with love but also worry. It is little sleep and a lot of prayer. It is not having the right to get sick or feeling guilty for a nap. It is a physical exhaustion I did not know I had in me.


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AWiB would like to proudly acknowledge its partners for the year.