AHEAD-Cuso International Consultation Meeting with Ethiopian Diaspora Health Professionals


AHEAD and Cuso International would like to extend sincere appreciation to all participants for their attendance and active participation in the Consultation Meeting on January 13, 2016.

There were 22 people at the meeting, including: 13 professionals who attended in person in Ottawa, 7 professionals via satellite from Cuso International Toronto office and 2 professionals via online from home


AHEAD Award Recipients (AAU)


In keeping with its mission, effective September 2015, AHEAD will launch the AHEAD Award for Academic Excellence (hereafter called AHEAD Award).  Recipients of the AHEAD Award will be drawn from medical schools in four universities.  The AHEAD Award will be made annually, at the beginning of academic year.


AHEAD AND Cuso International host two consultative meetings of Ethiopian Diaspora Health professionals


On January 8 and 10, 2015, two consultative meetings were held with the Ethiopian Diaspora health professionals in Ottawa at the invitation of Cuso International (

The Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEAD) played a key role in facilitating the two meetings, carrying out an outreach among medical professionals in Ottawa. (

The main purpose of the meeting was to brief Ethiopian Diaspora health professionals about the work of Cuso International and its Diaspora Engagement Program in Ethiopia.

AHEAD Chairman and Executive Director, Mr. Temesghen Hailu, welcomed the groups with a presentation about the work of AHEAD since its establishment in1999. In his presentation, Mr. Hailu said that the effects of brain drain in Ethiopia could be addressed through the intellectual, financial and social capital of the Ethiopian Diaspora.

On his part, Mr. Osei Nana, Project Officer – AU Diaspora Volunteer Corps, Cuso International, spoke about the mission and activities of Cuso International, focusing on its Diaspora engagement work in Ethiopia. Mr. Osei noted, in his presentation, that Ethiopian health professionals in the Diaspora have a vital role to play in supporting Ethiopia’s health sector.

The Group welcomed the initiative by AHEAD and Cuso International to reach out to health professionals and agreed to meet again to discuss more concrete steps for Diaspora engagement in the health sector.

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REPORT LAUNCH: Diaspora Volunteers and International Development: an Autoethnographic Research Project

Ottawa, November 19, 2013 – We are pleased to present AHEAD’slatest study, an autoethnographic research on the role and impact of diaspora volunteers in international development.

Focusing on Ethiopia and Guyana as case studies, and Canada as the hostland, the report investigates the relevance of the selection, training, deployment and monitoring of diaspora volunteers to the context and needs of volunteer-hosting countries and institutions with a view to strengthening and improving these processes.

The study was undertaken by Solomon Belay Faris (PhD) and grew out of his personal experiences as a diaspora volunteer in an earlier pilot project carried out by AHEAD, Cuso International, VSO Ethiopia and the Alliance for Brain Gain and Innovative Development (ABIDE) involving the placement of Ethiopian-Canadian diaspora professionals to support capacity development in selected institutions in Ethiopia.

In this work, Solomon engages diaspora volunteer sending and hosting organizations, participant communities and diaspora volunteers themselves in storytelling regarding the meaning of development, their interaction with each other, the unique role and contributions of diaspora volunteers, the volunteer journey (from recruitment, to training, deployment and return), the costs involved and the potential for positive impact to the hostland. The stories presented and their analyses indicate that there are sufficient examples and models to ascertain the unique contributions of the diaspora volunteers to international development.

We are excited to share our findings with you and are certain that you will find the report’s innovative and personal presentation quite engaging. We would also be pleased to have you join us at our report launch events in Montreal (November 24), Ottawa (November 30) or Toronto (December 5). Details and registration information are available at

Ethiopian Universities, do you owe a debt?

AHEAD fellows

Ottawa (June 13, 2007) – Since its establishment in 1999, AHEAD has been moving fulfilling its mandate with resilience and determination. The last eight years have not been easy, but what we have done is worth every pain.

One of AHEAD’s source of pride is the Bursary Program for Medical Students at Addis Ababa, Gondar and Jimma Universities which started in 2000. Each year, AHEAD sponsors fellows from the three medical schools, who qualify for monthly stipend to help them meet some of their basic needs. The amount of the bursary provided to each student is minimal, however, since it is provided for three consecutive years, a student can count on AHEAD funds while on training.

This Bursary Program is administered by the Getachew Bolodia Foundation (GBF), a partner organization, based in Addis Ababa. GBF is responsible for developing the selection criteria, identifying the fellows, administering the funds and reporting to AHEAD. In return, AHEAD sends the funds required each year.

We invite you to visit the GBF website at: where you will see the current AHEAD fellows who come from different parts of Ethiopia. You will also be able to read the comments by some of the students.

While we recognize this is a modest contribution, we believe that, if other Ethiopians join hands, both the amount of the funds and the frequency of the stipend can be increased to make a difference in the lives of the students. For those of us who benefited from an education system paid for by the people of Ethiopia, it is nothing more than paying back a debt to our motherland. Should you wish to pay back your debt, give a hand to a fellow Ethiopian.

Ordre du jour du FORUM DE LA COMMUNAUTÉ DE LA DIASPORA AFRICAINE Lundi le 25 avril 2005


Sur invitation

“Le rôle de la Diaspora africaine au Canada afin d’améliorer la qualité de vie des communautés africaines en réponse à la fuite des cerveaux de l’Afrique ”

Bibliothèque et Archives Canada

395, rue Wellington, Ottawa

 Lundi le 25 avril 2005

de 18 h à  21 h


Haut-commissariat de l’Afrique du Sud

Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEAD)

South African Rainbow Association – Ottawa (SARA-O)

Speech by Senator Oliver

Notes for a Speech


The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Q.C.

To the

Association for Higher Development and Education (AHEAD) Addis Bazaar Event

September 18, 2004

Ottawa, Ontario

Good evening and thank you for joining us for these celebrations of AHEAD’s fifth anniversary.    Believe me, there is plenty to celebrate.

AHEAD is a non-profit, non-political organization, whose primary goal is to advance the development of higher education in Ethiopia.

Through the efforts of its volunteers, supporters and staff, medical texts and books are regularly shipped to three medical facilities in Ethiopia.  Bursaries have been awarded to more than 70 medical students.

And AHEAD will launch its equipment project this year with the shipment of stethoscopes for medical students in the three medical facilities we support.

This tangible and ongoing assistance is contributing in profound ways to improving the lives of thousands of Ethiopians.  The intangible benefits of the networks and relationships AHEAD has nurtured with the Ethiopian community are equally valuable.

That is why I am extremely proud to play a role in these essential endeavours.

As stateswomen, educator and visionary, Mary McLeod Bethune, once said:  “The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his (or her) worth.”

I cannot rest either.  The sting of racism continues to impede the progress of peoples of African descent throughout the world.

Subtle, yet deep, discrimination continues to hold us back, to stifle our potential and to kill our dreams.

And sadly, these problems and others are escalating.  We will soon reach a breaking point, if we don’t act and act now.

This evening, I’d like to first touch on some of the more recent trends affecting Africans, and particularly Ethiopians.  Second, I will talk about the Conference Board of Canada research I am championing on the plight of visible minorities here in Canada.

And third, based on this research, I would like to present some preliminary prescriptions to these maladies stagnating Africa’s development.

My message is that the African Diaspora is extending its reach into all corners of the world.  We have the potential to shape Africa’s destiny in powerful and lasting ways.

We must listen to the drums in our hearts and remember our brothers and sisters in Africa.  Now, more than ever, they need our understanding, our expertise and our help.

First, let’s take a brief look at the situation in Africa today.  Ainalem Tebeje, Vice President of AHEAD, recently conducted a study to examine how the African Diaspora can play a role in Africa’s capacity building.  She used Ethiopia as a case study.

Her report underscores the devastating impact of Africa’s dramatic brain drain.  She found, for example, that Africa loses 20,000 skilled professionals every year and has already lost one-third of its intellectual capital.

As a result, Africa’s scientific and technological capacity is on the decline. It continues to see little return on its investments in education. It has to spend billions to hire professional help from other continents.

The situation is particularly precarious in Ethiopia, which has suffered the greatest losses.  Over the past few years, Ethiopia has lost 74.6 percent of its skilled professionals in a variety of areas.

A third of its doctors have left. Expatriates support most of its academic institutions. To fill the gap, the country spends more than $5 million annually on hiring foreign professionals – dollars, I might add, that Ethiopia can ill afford.

Overall, this has stagnated Ethiopia’s economic and technological growth, weakened its institutions, and destroyed its ability to fight poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy.

In her paper, Ainalem presents a compelling case for how the African Diaspora can help to rebuild Africa … through virtual participation.

“Virtual participation” entails building stronger ties between members of the Diaspora and the African community, without relocation.  Instead it advocates the establishment and maintenance of an electronic community of interest.

Ainalem found that the Diaspora is ready, willing and most importantly, able to help build this community. We have the resources and expertise that can be used for its development.

And Ethiopia welcomes this assistance and views it as both necessary and possible.

However, this participation from afar must be based on mutual trust and respect.  It must be coordinated to avoid duplication. Communications must be ongoing, among members of the Diaspora and with our Ethiopian partners.

Above all, this virtual participation must be sustainable with ongoing funding and resources.  One-time efforts and flashy programs won’t cut it.  In fact, as Ainalem observes in her report, “small is beautiful”.

That’s why AHEAD – and other similar organizations – can and are making such a difference.  But, we need to do more.

Let me turn now to some of the ways we can continue to help out in constructive and enduring ways.

As you may know, I have spearheaded new research on the impact of diversity on Canada’s future prosperity.  This research, conducted by the Conference Board of Canada, included an economic evaluation of the contribution of visible minorities to Canada’s economic growth.

The Conference Board also thoroughly investigated twelve national and international, public and private sector organizations to produce case studies of best practices in advancing visible minorities.

In addition, they conducted a series of focus group meetings with successful visible minority managers to gain a thorough perspective of their experiences and views.

The Conference Board’s research provides a most persuasive argument for why Canada must take steps now to build a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

Within another decade, the baby boomers – the largest generation ever – will be leaving the workforce. But, this isn’t a uniquely Canadian phenomenon.

Given the low fertility rates across most of the industrialized world, all G-7 countries, particularly Germany, will face the consequences of the greying of the baby boomer generation.

Consequently, the competition for talent will be ferocious.  It is a battle that will largely determine who wins and who loses in the world economy.

As we have seen, this global battle for talent has seriously damaged Africa’s ability to achieve economic stability.

What can we do to help stem the exodus of talent from Africa?  Allow me to present some of the lessons the Conference Board discovered in its research.

The first lesson is that networks are critical.  In the Conference Board’s focus groups, participants reported that networks – both internal and external as well as personal and professional – play a vital role.

The contacts developed through these networks helped these visible minority managers to find jobs more effectively.  And once they became part of an organization, this support structure helped them to sustain their personal well-being and to ensure their success at work.

Interestingly, the focus group participants who had the opportunity to participate in formal networks or committees within their organizations said that it made them feel more engaged in the workplace.

For some, it was seen as a way “to give back” to the organization and thereby contribute to building an inclusive and more meaningful working environment, for themselves and others in their organization.

I believe we feel the same way at AHEAD – that our participation in this organization brings its own rewards.  There’s immense satisfaction in working with others to achieve a worthwhile goal.  I am truly honoured to be a patron of AHEAD.

It’s our way to give back to the African community, the historical source of our collective strengths of kinship and family.

And I know that if we further extend and nurture that network with our colleagues in Africa and in Canada, these rewards will be magnified many times over.

A second finding of the Conference Board’s research is that mentors are absolutely critical.

For instance, David Thomas, a U.S.-based researcher on minority advancement and career progression, found that “people of colour who advance the furthest all share one characteristic.”

That characteristic is a “strong network of mentors and corporate sponsors who nurture their professional development.”

The Conference Board further discovered that most of the participants in its focus groups “felt that the ethnicity or race of their mentor was much less important than the mentor’s interest in their career and well-being at work.”

I anticipate that our colleagues in Ethiopia would probably feel the same way.  That’s why in addition to building group relationships between people in Canada and people in Ethiopia, I think we need to find ways to help individuals connect on a one-on-one basis.

The more personal relationships that will inevitably develop could prove crucial to an Ethiopian professional’s career development. And I believe it will cement the bonds developed at a group level as well.

That was certainly my experience when, as a young man at Acadia University in Wolfville, I was selected to join a group of Canadian and American students as part of Crossroads Africa Inc. initiative.

We travelled to Ethiopia for the summer to build an extension to an existing school in northern Ethiopia.  In our spare time, we taught … and we learned about the people of the region – their religion, their culture and their history.

That experience and the relationships I formed with my colleagues and my friends in Ethiopia continue to resonate with me today. It’s a large part of the reason why I support AHEAD.  I have long felt personally connected to the people of Ethiopia.

The third, and perhaps the most important lesson of the Conference Board’s Research is that strong leadership paves the way for unprecedented results.

The Conference Board concluded, for example, that the best organizations have leaders clearly committed to making sure that diversity is critical component of their organizational strategy.

They are open to differences and are sensitive to and accommodate the needs of different employees.  They treat employees with dignity and respect.  They are enthusiastic and they get involved.

As the focus group research specifically revealed, “senior leaders who participate in visible minority networks and employment equity activities were particularly admired.”

I know that the same would apply for our efforts to build and sustain relationships with Ethiopia.  We need to get more support from leaders – leaders who will play an active and ongoing role in Ethiopian development … leaders who will be respected for their commitment and their results.

We must remember too, however, that truly effective leaders pay much more than lip service to their commitment.  They make sure that policies and plans are in place within their organizations to help visible minorities grow in their careers.

These organizations also track their progress.  They take steps to solve problems and build on their successes in helping visible minorities to become leaders in their organizations.

And these organizations not only take decisive action to attract more visible minorities, they actively seek to build the inclusive and welcoming working environments that encourage people of colour to stay with their organizations.

For example, they educate their people about different cultures and the benefits of diversity.  They help them to understand the barriers that visible minorities face.

And they reward their employees for developing a workplace culture that values the contributions of all employees, including those of colour.

To a large degree, I believe that AHEAD has achieved that level of leadership, planning and sustainability.

AHEAD has made an unquestionable impact on Ethiopia’s prospects by engaging the Canadian African Diaspora to help in a concrete way. It has nurtured a constructive dialogue with medical institutions in Ethiopia.

It has built and sustains a dynamic network of contacts that is helping to train doctors.

It is doing its part to arm Ethiopia with the resources it needs to win in the global battle for talent.  As Nelson Mandela once said:  “Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.”

Most importantly, the AHEAD organization continues to look at ways to do more and to do better.   Ainalem’s report is proof positive of that commitment and drive.

The global battle for talent is well underway.  It presents new challenges and offers new lessons to every nation on earth – but its implications are far more daunting for the “dark continent” than they are anywhere else.

In his book, Generations of Captivity:  A History of African-American Slaves, Ira Berlin describes the shameful experience of Black slaves in North America over the 250 years before the American Civil War.  These were brutal, inhuman times.

Millions of Africans were forced from their homes, treated like chattel, starved, beaten and killed – for no other reason than the colour of their skin.

Yet, throughout his book, Berlin emphasizes the tremendous, almost superhuman power of the African spirit.  He attributes the forceful and overwhelmingly positive influence of family and kinship to the success of Black slaves in beating the odds and overcoming much suffering.

Family and kinship continue to define people of African descent around the world.  We can nurture that legacy today by nurturing new networks, by providing mentors and by offering leadership and guidance through organizations like AHEAD.

I urge you to get involved and lend your support to this important cause.  Now, more than ever, Ethiopia – and all African nations need our help.

Listen to the drums that beat in your heart.  Answer their call.  And know that you can make a difference.

Thank you.

Note: The research on the Role of the African Diaspora was conducted by AHEAD with the support of IDRC. Ainalem Tebeje, Vice President of AHEAD presented a preliminary report on the research to IDRC and other invited guests on August 31, 2004


Honourable Senator Oliver and Mrs.Oliver

Members of the Diplomatic Corp

Distinguished Guests

Friends of AHEAD

Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to Addis Bazaar.

On behalf of AHEAD members, I am pleased to extend a very warm welcome to you on this, occasion of our fourth annual fund-raising bazaar. Your presence this evening and your continuing support over the years, attest to your belief in our objectives and your willingness to demonstrate that belief in a very practical way, which is by your donations.

At a time like this, it is appropriate for me as President, to remind those of you who already know , as well as others who might be hearing about AHEAD for the first time, as to how the idea of the organization originated, our objectives in founding it, our achievements thus far and our hopes and dreams for the future.

I begin with a personal note.

Five years ago, my family and I suffered a tragedy , the mere thought of which still touches me deeply. My younger sister, Selam Hailu, young, bright, beautiful and generous in her prime years and with a future full of promise, as we all understandably believed, died of cancer.

Our family asked why? I myself asked why? many times, over and over again. We passed the cycle of anger, pain, gut-wrenching grief, sorrow and sadness familiar to all who have experienced the loss of a family member, especially one cut down in the flower of youth.

But we didn’t stop there.

I didn’t stop there. I soon realized that it was time to move on, to turn the anger, pain, grief and sorrow into a positive force, to make a commitment to myself, my family, my immediate community and to other Ethiopians at home and abroad. I resolved to use whatever knowledge, talents or resources I had to fight, not only against cancer in particular, but also against disease, wherever it strikes in Ethiopia.

It was reassuring to discover soon afterwards that I was not dreaming alone. Close friends and colleagues like Ainalem Tebege, Dr.Yohannes Kebede,Tezazu Tebje, Yoseph Hailu, Haile Belai Azieb Teferi and Ibrahim Yimer came together to see what we could do in a small way for our country.

So AHEAD was born, with the first contribution of ten dollars from Ainalem in our first fund-raising drive, a garage sale!.Thus inspired, we opened a bank account with a generous donation of one hundred dollars from Dr. Joe Manyoni, Ainalem’s husband.

When we started AHEAD five years ago, we had nothing. We had no money, no organizational skill. No status and certainly no strategy.

But, we had two things:  A Vision and A Commitment.  When we came together, we knew the journey was going to be long and hard. But, it will not be impossible to make that journey. But, we were careful as to what we can do: Thus we have used a simple but enduring motto of A Book at a Time and a Student a Year.

Ever since then, we have been on the road to success.

We have been fortunate and very honoured to have Senator Donald Oliver consent to be our mentor and patron and , most notably, to raise the case of Ethiopia in the Senate of Canada.

What have we done in those first five years:

1.  Having acquired legal status as a charity organization, we established a Bursary Program which, so far, has benefitted 72 medical students from three universities, Jimma, Gondar and Addis Ababa. In fact, the first batch of 18 students who have received the AHEAD Bursary began their internship last year.

2.  We have sent more than 20,000 books and they were all carried either a book at a time, or a box at a time or a container at a time.

3.  Today, we are launching the equipment project by sending the first batch of 18 stethoscopes which we are on display here. We will send those every year.

3. With our partners, the Getachew Bolodia Foundation, we secured funding to establish the first resource centre in Jimma

4.   With the finance Assistance of IDRC we have just completed a research study that shows the role of the African Diaspora in Capacity Building Efforts

5. We have established partnerships whether it is in Ethiopia or here.

6. We have built a strong support base with friends, donors and volunteers who support our cause

7.We have also survived the growing pains. We have learned the hard way that you cannot rush, push or expedite social change.You cannot do what you want always. You can only do what you can.

Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to become personal again and share with you what AHEAD has meant to me.

AHEAD is about education, the education of fellow Ethiopians back home in Ethiopia, far away from where I live. But strangely enough, it was me who learned the most, who got educated in the process, and for this, I am very thankful.

I have gained a new understanding about the meaning of commitment.

From my wife my best friend, on whose support I daily depend.

From Ainalem, who never allows a day to pass without thinking about strategies to promote AHEAD.

From Haile, who makes time during his every visit to Ethiopia to strengthen our partnership with our colleagues there.

From Azieb, who currently acts as our contact person, discussing initiatives with our representative Ato Workenh Assefa, in Addis Ababa.

From Ibrahim in spite of his busy carrier who makes time to do his share of the work load.

From Yohannes and Tezazu for helping AHEAD to shine.

All of these individuals give their time, talents, energy, knowledge and personal resources without counting the costs.

All with one common objective, that is, to provide an opportunity for our young people to develop their potential, to the highest level possible, to serve their people and their country.

A practical investment for the future. The DIASPORA at work.

Their commitment inspires me with new energy, so it is still a pleasure and privilege for me to pledge my own commitment once again to AHEAD with even greater optimism than that which captivated us four years ago.

Let me, in closing, express the debt of gratitude we owe to our co-sponsors.

Mr. Bouchard Francois owner and president of The Country Grocer

Mrs. Hutton Catherine Branch manager of Scotia Bank

Ms. Millet Christiane owner and director of  Interlanuge English School.

Let me also thank you, our donors, and our dedicated voluntaries for your presence, your support today and your continuing contribution as partners in this worthy cause. Our dream has become yours as well. Please accept our heartfelt appreciation.

Thank you.