Library Information Foundation for Ethiopia: A country that reads is a country that leads

Yeewket Admas is Amharic meaning knowledge horizons. With knowledge, we can expand our horizons and improve our world. Library Information Foundation for Ethiopia is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide good quality books to Ethiopians to help them develop a culture of reading and self-improvement. We have opened or assisted the opening of 22 libraries in Ethiopia. We humbly ask for your charitable contributions to help further our goal. Click here.

Ethiopia’s massive rural population of 57 million struggles to make ends meet as subsistence farmers. Some 50 percent cannot read or write and have no access to printed materials. Many have never used a computer.

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The Library Information Foundation for Ethiopia has now founded 22 libraries, all for high school and college students primarily so far. Libraries for younger students, K-12, and for the deaf, blind and disabled are the next goal, and funds are badly needed.
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Some of the libraries welcome people of all ages. Families can read and study together.

Library Information Foundation for Ethiopia (LIFFE) is working to close that educational gap but needs community support. Founded by Ahmedin Nasser, LIFFE is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia, working to set Ethiopia’s nearly 95 million residents on a path to universal literacy and socio-economic self-reliance by establishing a nationwide network of free public learning and community centers in Ethiopia.

The hub of LIFFE’s U.S. activities is in Oakland, California, where a small group is collecting educational books and money, and lining up transportation and logistics assistance to get the books to Ethiopia. The books being sought are educational non-fiction narratives, textbooks, technical manuals, classical literature and children’s primers. Additionally, LIFFE wants to furnish the centers with computers and peripheral equipment and recruit volunteers to teach Ethiopians how to use and maintain the libraries.

To date, the following libraries have been set up in Ethiopia by LIFFE:

  1. Sululta Secondary School
  2. Dejen Secondary School
  3. Bethlehem D/Zeyt Secondary School
  4. Mekane Iyasus D/Zeyt Secondary School
  5. Nefas Silk Lafto Sub-City
  6. Future Generation Kara Kore
  7. Future Generation Kore Lafto
  8. Future Generation Mekanisa
  9. Future Generation Ambo
  10. Wilkite Secondary School
  11. Wollo Weldiya Sub-City Higher Secondary School
  12. Higher 23 Preparatory School
  13. Aweliya Main Office
  14. Yemen Community School
  15. Azezo Higher Preparatory School (Gondar)
  16. Abidir Lower Secondary School
  17. Afar Semera University
  18. Dires Sport Association
  19. Endber Secondary School (Gurage Zone)
  20. Gidole Higher Secondary School
  21. Kaliti (Prison)
  22. East Gojam

To learn more, visit Library Information Foundation for Ethiopia, and contact LIFFE at 510-359-9073

Ahmedin Nasser builds libraries in Ethiopia

“The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he’s able to receive.” – Albert Einstein

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Remember the first time you stared at library shelves? If you’d learned to read, your curiosity longed to hold and open a book and discover the secrets inside. Schools teach us to read, and libraries give us books to read that will transform our lives.

Entrepreneur Ahmedin Mohamed Nasser, a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, lives his life by this mantra. After moving to the U.S. in 1985 and graduating from Cal State East Bay, Nasser had the idea to start a library for students in his homeland. He rallied friends and institutions together in support of his dream. Stanford University was the first to send 5,000 new books to Addis Ababa University.

However, after looking to invest in more books and computers for students, Nasser says the challenge was logistics with expensive transportation costs. “Sacrifice is necessary for my people. It was a full commitment to make sure my dream was fulfilled, my dream of helping my people transform their life.”

Nasser invested his money and his time to make sure that students in his country were afforded the opportunity to have a free public library, something he says people in the U.S. take for granted.

In 2007, he organized Yeewket Admas, committed to creating a culture of reading and self-improvement for the people of Ethiopia. Garnering support from businesses and individuals, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee, they raised $15,000 to send a 40-foot container of books, computers and printers to fill libraries in each high school, college and community center in Ethiopia.

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Ahmedin Nasser

“Here all of us, including Americans and those of us from the African Diaspora and other parts of the world, we take everything for granted. They don’t have the opportunity in Africa that we have the privilege of having here. But there are so many intelligent kids out there who need books and computers to excel in their studies,” he said.

Now Ethiopians have access to free public libraries at 22 locations throughout the country. Nasser hopes to expand the project to elementary schools for students starting in Kindergarten and up, including the deaf, blind and disabled.

“Everyone has a responsibility to pay back; any human should help other human beings. Ethiopians have more responsibility in helping their own in any way possible – in-kind donations, financial support, serving on the committee, grant writing, fundraising.

“An ordinary person can make an extraordinary achievement,” he said.

This is an excerpt from an article by Ashley Chambers, published by the Post News Group, “Ahmedin Nasser, Building Libraries in Ethiopia.”