Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund First Annual Fundraiser: I have a dream…

Filed under: Opinion & Analysis |

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Author’s Note: Below is my speech at the First Annual Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund (EDTF)  fundraising Gala. It has been a labor of love for me to serve as Chairman of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund and work with so many wonderful Ethiopia lovers.

EDTF is barely 16 months since its inception. We started our EDTF journey by responding to H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s call to diaspora Ethiopians to donate $1 a day to support critical needs in Ethiopia.

Over the past 14 months, we have been able to establish EDTF as a legal entity in the U.S. and Ethiopia, successfully complete complex regulatory requirements, mobilize over 25 thousand diaspora Ethiopians and collect over USD 5.3 million. We are proud of our accomplishments given the fact that we were able to mobilize global grassroots support for EDTF.  “Where there is a will, there is a way.” That is our EDTF way.

I wish to thank the 25,670 Ethiopian diaspora and friends of EDTF donors from 93 countries for contributing over USD 5.3 million over the past year. They are the power behind EDTF.

I wish to thank Dr. Hafez Ghanem, Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, for his inspirational keynote address at our gala event.

Dr. Hafez Ghanem, Vice President of the World Bank for Africa

I also thank Dr. Domenico Fanizza, Member of the Executive Board of the International Monetary  Fund, for  coming to our gala and  sharing the good news in person that Ethiopia shall soon receive a US$2.9 billion financing package, the largest ever loan to an African country, to support Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s homegrown economic reform program.

Dr. Domenico Fanizza, Member of the Executive Board of the International Monetary  Fund

I thank our many Sponsors who supported our first fundraiser with extraordinary generosity.

EDTF was able to survive and thrive in its first year because of its young and dedicated volunteers (Diaspora Ethiopian Cheetahs) who took on their responsibilities with seriousness of purpose. Our volunteers are the backbone of EDTF.

I thank UNDP for its generous support of our operations in Ethiopia.

I thank our East Coast EDTF Advisory Council members who organized the event: Dr. Bisrat Aklilu, EDTF Treasurer and members Prof. Lemma Senbet, Mr. Henok Tesfaye, Mr. Kassy Kebede, Dr. Zaki Sharif  and Mr. Gabriel Negatu.

Our special thanks goes to members of the EDTF Board of Directors in Ethiopia including Sister Zebyider Zewdie, who traveled from far away to join us, Mr. Chernet Debele, and Mr. Yohannes Asefa. We thank Mrs. Hanna Atanfu, EDTF Communications Officer, for joining us on short notice.

I wish to commend and thank  Ms. Yodit Gebreyes Endale, the award winning Ethiopian event planner in the Washington DC metro area for helping us put together a memorable inaugural fundraiser. I also thank Ms. Bofta Yimam, the Emmy and Murrow Award-Winning Journalist for serving as “master of ceremonies” for the evening.


Text of  my speech at the First Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund Gala on December 12, 2019

They say the most dangerous thing to a festive occasion is to give a microphone to a professor and lawyer who makes a living by talking.

But if you think talk is cheap, then talk to a lawyer.

So, the only way I will talk more than 10 minutes this evening is if one of you makes a very large donation to EDTF, here and now.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I just want to say a few words about us this evening.

You and me and the over 26 thousand diaspora Ethiopians from 93 countries who donated $1 a day to generate over $5 million dollars in less than a year to support EDTF.

I want to say a few words about us who made history with the power of one, one dollar a day.

Someone once asked me in sarcastic disbelief, “Do you really think you can change anything in Ethiopia by collecting $1 a day?”

It was a question that made me sad and mad.

For I know what $1 a day means. What $1 a day can do.

I know over 85 percent of the people of Ethiopia live on one dollar or less a day.

I know a factory worker in Ethiopia earns less than $1 a day. A factory worker earns $26 a month, which is less than a dollar a day.

But what can we do with a dollar a day in America?

We can buy a cup of Starbucks latte for $4.

In 30 days, that comes to $120 a month, a princely sum that can sustain a family of 4 in Ethiopia for a month.

If we eat out frugally once a week at a fast food joint, that would cost at least $20. That is $80 a month.

It is not unusual pay $20 a day for parking. That is $100 a week.

Two movie tickets cost at least $20.

A one day pass at Disney is $112. For a family of 4, that is nearly $450.

But to be part of EDTF, it costs only $1 a day.

We made history with EDTF with just $1 a day.

In EDTF, for the first time ever, diaspora Ethiopians made history when we came together as ONE to work on a long-term intergenerational project to help our people.

In EDTF, for the first time ever, we made history when we proclaimed the First Responders when Ethiopia is trouble should not be American, European or other taxpayers.

The First Responders should be Diaspora Ethiopians.

In EDTF, for the first time ever, we made history when in less than a year when we

created nonprofit legal entities in the U.S. and in Ethiopia.

set up an Advisory Council in the U.S. and a Board of  Directors in Ethiopia.

obtained nonprofit tax exempt status (501 c 3) in the U.S.

built a dynamic website.

worked out payment processing with many financial institutions.

speedily completed complex U.S. regulatory requirements.

put out a request for proposals and received over 300 submissions for review (some of which we hope to fund next month)

and collected $5 million.

Imagine doing all that in less than a year!

But that is not all.

We made history by creating an organization powered 100 percent by volunteers. Thank you so much OUR volunteers! We appreciate you.

We made history by creating a Fund in which 100 percent of donations are dedicated to projects.

Not a penny collected in donations goes for administrative or any other non-project related activities.

Above all, we made history by creating an organization that is all inclusive without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, region or ideology.

To be part of EDTF, all that is required is to be willing to give $1 a day.

In all of my travels on behalf of EDTF over the past year, I have often met individuals who point an accusatory finger and try to shame me on how badly EDTF is doing.

They say, “There are a million diaspora Ethiopians and you could collect only $5 million?”

I smile wryly looking not at their faces but the three fingers pointing at them.

There is nothing easy about helping people.

We serve in EDTF to help our people, not because it is easy but because it is hard.

We do EDTF as an expression of our love for our people and our motherland.

EDTF is a labor of love for all of us who toil deep into the night.

Indeed, EDTF was born in a labor of love.

When H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the “2019 Nobel Champion of Peace” called on diaspora Ethiopians to take one dollar from their daily coffee budget and create a fund to help their people, we were very excited.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Abiy on accepting his Nobel Peace Prize a couple of days ago. He made me – he made us all — so, so proud!

We accepted Prime Minister Abiy’s challenge for one $1 a day for one reason only: To show our love, concern and dedication to our people who live on less than a dollar a day.

Let me tell you something.

No one will spend every minute of their spare time working on EDTF unless they are driven by love.

Love of one’s own people.

Love of country.

Love of humanity.

Love of womanity.

So, I can say confidently to you tonight, EDTF is powered by love.

That is why you never hear us complaining about the glass half empty.

We do what we do without ever complaining.

Because EDTF is a labor of love.

Aah! What good men and good women will not do for love!

There are challenges ahead.

But we are not daunted.

EDTF to us is a journey to us, not a destination.

In that journey, we will certainly change the old work horses.

We will get younger and stronger work horses to continue the journey.

But the EDTF carriage, made of steel and welded by love, will go on to deliver for generations to come.

Our greatest challenge is not collecting money.

Our greatest challenge is showing diaspora Ethiopians the grand vision of EDTF.

It is a vision made up of dignity, humanity and prosperity.

EDTF’s vision is national dignity.

With EDTF, Ethiopia shall no longer be known as a “beggar nation”.

EDTF’s vision is of shared prosperity.

It is our vision that Ethiopia shall be known for her prosperity, not poverty.

EDTF’s vision is national unity.

It is our vision to come together and help each other in our common humanity.

EDTF’s vision is equality of opportunity for all.

From this vision comes my dream for EDTF.

I have a dream that one day EDTF will be a source of pride and dignity for all diaspora Ethiopians.

I have a dream that one day in every village, highway and byway in Ethiopia, there will be signs advertising, “You just entered an EDTF Zone”.

I have a dream that one day there will be water wells dotted across the countryside in Ethiopia with signs, “Water well powered by EDTF.”

I have a dream that one day there will be schools across Ethiopia emblazoned with signs, “Back to school with EDTF”.

I have a dream that one day there will be clinics in the hinterlands of Ethiopia  over whose gates are inscribed the words, “Welcome. Healing supported by the tender loving care of EDTF.”

I have a dream that one day EDTF projects will engage and inspire young Ethiopians to exercise their creativity and create a youth-powered, knowledge-based economy in Ethiopia.

And Yes! Indeed, I dream of the day when I will sit down in my rocking chair rocking to and fro, smiling and sighing joyfully,

“Thank God Almighty we did it beautifully!”

Thank you!

Please donate to EDTF at

Video — Prof. Al Mariam, Chairman of EDTF




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11 Responses to Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund First Annual Fundraiser: I have a dream…

  1. I urge you to take out the words Ethiopia and diaspora out of this trust fund’s name. The Ethiopian diaspora don’t recognize this trust fund as theirs since it has proven to be driven by a group.of intellectual prostitutes that inadvertently promote genocides VIVA ESKINDER VIVA EZEMA. VIVA ARENA. VIVA NAMA

    December 16, 2019 at 4:25 pm

  2. sorry ! the diaspora can be fooled for awhile but not every time or always sir! I am sorry to say but I have to say that I do not think the way you think and behave in this very critical moment of the country does not seem a real or honest dream but kind of illusion . Yes, as far as your fantasy type of political theory and worshiping individual politicians but disregarding the reality yon the ground is concerned, it is not a dream as we know but just an illusion . The genuinely concerned diaspora had more than enough evidence about the on going hypocritical and cynical political game being plated by EPRDF”s politicians who have no any sense of shame when they try to deceive or mislead the innocent people of Ethiopia by simply changing their form (organizational revision) and call it Prosperity ( Amahara Prosperity, Oromo Prosperity, Southern Prosperity, Benishabgul prosperity, Somali Prosperity and etc.) Is this not a very cynical if not stupid political game ? I can go on and on and on . Any way, the truly concerned diaspora has something else to do sir. And that is to wage a very strong peaceful political struggle that can root out the ruling circle that is baldly stained with the blood of countless innocent citizens . A fundamental democratic change cannot and will not be realized by the leadership of a political system of EPRDF’s politicians at all!

    December 16, 2019 at 9:28 pm

  3. T. Goshu
    You are one of the TPLF crooks and goons in the diaspora and do not have any good vision and good wishes for Ethiopia. Your TPLF pay masters have lost the power they had used to pillage Ethiopia and commit heinous crimes which the good professor Al Mariam and others in the Diaspora had been speaking about and fighting against. You never uttered a concern over the abuses of the TPLF over the years. Now you are trying to attack and undermine the popular Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund because you and your likes hate Ethiopia so much that you do all you can to attack and undermine any effort or project to help and move the country forward. Rest assured that Ethiopians will make the TPLF history.

    December 17, 2019 at 6:59 am

  4. T. Goshu
    You are a well known admirer and follower of the the late ethno-fascist Meles Zenawi and his politics of disintegrating Ethiopia and raising the republic of Tigray over the rubble of the first. Ethiopianess, unity and harmony are the the issues which make the TPLF guys and robbers like you mad and sick. Therefore, you are quick to taint and demonize those in our Diaspora community who contribute to their country of origin. As ethno-fascists you and your likes are not expected to do any good for Ethiopia.

    December 17, 2019 at 7:13 am

  5. Tamagne
    You are EDTF yourself. Who are you trying to cheat?
    EZEMA is one step away from Edget Behibret zemecha Prosperity.

    Ezema is still added Ezema is not subtracted same as your EDTF is still added

    Most Sidama people now are added to Abiy Medemer philosophy not subtracted .
    . EDTF is the one adding more to bring edget Behibret zemechay to Ethiopia.

    December 17, 2019 at 1:12 pm

  6. Abiy got 3 billions dollars from IMF . He doesn’t need this trust fund for the money, this trust fund was created to bring few vocal activist diaspora elites to Abiy’s corner, with these few diaspora elites not criticizing him he managed to be seen as not a failed leader for a while, most didn’t criticize him by listening to his sugar quoting mouth that convinced them they matter , now feel they are part of his Entourage making positive changes . He wanted to win all diasporas political support with his campaign of $1 a day through this trust fund he had the support for a short while but he snoozed and lost most diasporas support as he lost most Ethiopians support for being a hypocrite ,

    Team Lemma might have won few individuals such as AlMariam but he didn’t win all of diasporas support since he snoozed with few scandalous corrupt confused bourgeoisies that sold their souls for the devil left still in EDTF praising hypocrite politicians . These elites wouldn’t give a cent to their own family members but they rather pay the government leader to get praised by the “leader” rather than stand with the truth.

    Yerasachewun ayin gudif sayawetu yelelawun ayin gudif liyawetu yemichilu mesiwachew aynachinin teneqolut !!!

    Tell this dinner gala hodams to first Clean their houses in a responsible way since the garbage spilling out of their homes is contaminating the country . Buy bleach and other cleaning chemicals with your money first maybe after if anything is left which I really doubt there will be anything left then you can consider to see where and how to contribute to the society with your gudifs out of your eyes.

    December 17, 2019 at 2:11 pm

  7. The EDTF will continue to grow and expand its reaches. It is a good example of self help and reliance via which the Diaspora will channel its help to reach the needy Ethiopians. The TPLF government has borrowed and got assistance amounting to 70 to 80 billion dollars but most of the money has left the country illegally. It means the TPLF leaders have stolen billions ment for the poor. It is reasonable to believe that the TPLF guys such as T.Goshu have taken their share of this money or loot.

    December 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

  8. Sad to say that this is a completely failed exercise.

    Crunch the numbers. ” 25 thousand diaspora Ethiopians contributed USD 5 million over sixteen months.” What a disaster is this?

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “250,000 Ethiopian immigrants lived in the United States.. An additional 30,000 U.S.-born citizens reported Ethiopian ancestry”. Guess which year the Bureau was reporting? 2008. Even for the same year, the estimates ranged upwards of 460,000.

    Ten years after (in 2018), the above number has gone over three million. Add another couple of million diaspora Ethiopians in Israel which takes the number of the diaspora further up to five million. With Ethiopians in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia and Africa, the number is close to ten million. It’s this diaspora that transfers billions every year as remittances.

    But when it comes to Al Mariam’s EDTF, the ten million are nowhere to be seen. I’m shocked. Only 25, 000 out of ten million diaspora responded to Al Mariam call to contribute? This 25 000 gave only USD 5 million whereas the ten million strong sends billions every year to family members and friends?

    I feel that the problem is Al Mariam himself. He has such a weird personality which made him lacks balance and fairness in treating Ethiopians on equal terms.

    I’ll give you just one example to support my view.

    Al Mariam writes every year about the 2005 massacre without even making a passing reference to the tens of thousands that have been killed and wounded, millions that have been displaced and lost their livelihoods in the past two years. Why does he ignore these facts? Because somebody who called him MY FRIEND, invited him to Menelik palace and drove him around is in office and he can’t say things that might offend him. And who’s the person? Abiy Ahmed.

    Good job, diaspora! Keep opposing Al Mariam’s double standard by shaming him. How? By not showing him even a dime to his fund.

    Gubda Negn
    December 18, 2019 at 1:23 pm

  9. Prostitute Dr. Ass,
    You are the # 1 prostitute of Ethiopian origin in the world. You are the butt hole licker of the most crooked, sham and Hoax terrorist in the world, playboy Abiy.
    EDTF is designed to steal money from hard working diaspora Ethiopians in order to fatten the bank accounts of Dr. Ass, play boy terrorist Abiy and their partners in crime all over the world. Read my lips, NOT EVEN A SINGLE CENT WILL REACH A NEEDY ETHIOPIAN. NO IFs ANDs OR BUTs. CASE CLOSED.
    Not only is EDTF a total HOAX but also is illegal because 100% of the money collected will be used to fund one of the most criminal, mafia, terrorist organization in the world, EPRDF also know as prosperity( by looting/enslaving ethiopians) party. Since EDTF is funding a terrorist organization, I encourage every ethiopian diaspora to contact their local elected officials, US government agencies and lawyers in order to notify them about the illegal organization. We need to shut down and destroy EDTF ASAP.
    Our people are hard working people. They ain’t beggars. They don’t want hand out. They want justice, opportunity and level playing fields in order to earn their keeps.
    Justice will never ever come to Ethiopia unless 100% of EPRDF (prosperity party) members starting with playboy/CROOKED Abiy go to jail and distribute the trillions of dollar they stole from everyday Ethiopians over the last 28 years to we the people of Ethiopia.
    Great job Tamagne and Goshu
    Shame on you prostitutes Samuel, Adem and Aynalem.

    December 18, 2019 at 7:38 pm

  10. According to the ESAT report that came out titled ” Ethiopia lost $36b in illicit financial flows ” on December of 2018 Ethiopia has lost in total $36 Billion USD Dollars (thirty six billion USD Dollars) between the years 1970 and 2018.

    Also another report published on December 2019 by Borkena news titled ” Ethiopia works to repatriate illicit assets acquired through corrupt means says AG ” claims Ethiopia lost $16.5 USD dollars between the years 2008 and 2018 .

    Meaning between 2008 and 2018 in one decade period ( in ten years period) Ethiopia lost in Illicit assets $19.5 Billion USD dollars additional just in those ten years, since if you add the $16.5 Billion USD (lost between 1970 and 2008) plus $19.5 USD Dollars ( lost between 2008 and 2018) is equal to $36 Billion USD Dollars .

    Poor Ethiopians should feel proud of themselves by knowing about how much we forgave, we surely hope we get forgiven as we forgave those .

    Each year it is estimated the continent of Africa, African Union AU member countries loose upto $50 billion USD dollars in Capital Flight with African Union officials (AU officials ) giving deaf ear to the issue.

    Nashife Raha
    December 19, 2019 at 1:51 am

  11. On December the 6th, 2019 Tadiyas Magazine published an insight about the diaspora trust fund with the architect behind this fund in an article titled ” Update on Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund: Q&A with Dr. Bisrat Aklilu ” in this interview I learnt how much untapped potential the diaspora got. All we diasporas need is making amends to each other for our past grievances and join as one to prosper . Making amends is the key to regain the lost money , the lost times , the lost trust , the lost … , the lost ………….. the list seems endless but with amend , the end is not far.


    Almesh em
    December 19, 2019 at 3:11 am

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