Case study – Mesfin Abebe, Ethiopia
Name: Mesfin Abebe
Course: MSc Communication for Innovation and Development
University: University of Reading
Mesfin has provided us with an update of everything that he has been doing in Ethiopia since his Marshal Papworth scholarship in the 2014/15 academic year:
“My name is Mesfin Abebe Tadesse. I am an Ethiopian living and working in Ethiopia. I am so thankful to the Marshal Papworth Fund family who work so diligently to support students from low income countries like myself to realize their dreams and impact the lives of the community where they come from and return to after their vital studies.
The opportunity that was given to me by Marshal Papworth has had a massive impact on my personal life and the lives of the community that I am serving with an enhanced capacity. The degree that I obtained from the University of Reading in the academic year 2014/15 was MSc Communication for Innovation and Development. After finishing my study I returned back to Ethiopia to work for my previous employer, Send a Cow, where I was promoted to a regional coordinator position.
In that capacity I have worked for my community by facilitating a research work on the economic, social and political lives of occupationally marginalized groups, such as Potters, Tanners and Blacksmiths in Wolaita community. It was aimed at promoting integration and social healing. That was very helpful in that at least the issue has been brought to the attention of the local government, community and Wolaita Sodo University whose researchers took part in the study.
I have also been greatly involved in promoting community based innovations such as the introduction of taro flour processing that has won bond competition in the UK and good practice competition by the Ethiopian government.
On other developments, I have worked as a focal point for a trial research in collaboration with a researcher from a US university aiming at developing the habit of eating the leaves of sweet potato, which is found to be rich in essential macro and micro nutrients for humans. In areas such as Wolaita where food insecurity is a grave problem, such innovations have had massive contributions in tacking the problem. For these innovative works and for my contributions I was rewarded with a certificate of recognition in 2016.
In July 2017, I joined Tearfund to work as Programme Manager for coordinating humanitarian response programmes in Ethiopia. With this capacity I have been tasked to design and develop proposals to respond to the needs of drought and conflict affected population in three regions, Somali, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, of Ethiopia. Once fundings were secured from Disaster Emeregency Committee ( DEC) and other donors, I have coordinated a cash transfer programming ( CTP) and inkind support, which was effective in saving the lives of close to 25,000 men, women, children and perosns with disabilities, the sick and the elderly. It has also contributed in restoring lost livelihoods as it was confirmed by an independent evaluation in 2018.
Since November 2018 up to now I am managing both development and humanitarian response programmes. In our development works, I am responsible for supporting local partners in establishing Self Help Groups and developing them in a way that promotes local capacity to respond to local problems. These are community structures formed by 15-20 the poorest of the poor people who trust each other and determined to mobilize their own resources, labour, knowledge and skill in tackling common problem, that is poverty. What we do to them is providing innovative ideas, knowledge and skill and facilitate the development of self belief, confidence and a go-getter mentality with no or little external support. We foster community based innovations as well. This initiative is being taken as a good development model unlike the handout based development aid. We are challenging the conventional aid work and proving it that it is not working if not wrong.
So, my conviction is that the exposure that was created for me by Marshal Papworth has not only helped me as an individual to become influential in every sector I am involved in rather it has made me to become an instrument of change and innovation and useful member of my community.”
We look forward to seeing how Mesfin will continue to impact his community in Ethiopia.
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