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HomeEthiopian NewsThe ‘good-for-nothing’ man who makes public eyes brim with hot tears

The ‘good-for-nothing’ man who makes public eyes brim with hot tears

Benyam Belete, founder of Mekedonia, making speech after received Honaris Causa award during Addis Ababa University convocation ceremony on July 20,2022 (Photo : public domain)

By Staff Reporter

ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – While this year’s graduates of Addis Ababa University (AAU) were enjoying, after years of mind-numbing studies and campus life, their ceremony at this special day, yesterday the 20th of July 2023 at the magnificent Millennium Hall in Addis, while enjoying the great fanfare of the marching band, while the young graduates were smiling, giggling and joyously throwing up their graduation caps… one thing has come up with a peculiar incident taking away all into dead silence. Many have even been carried away into tears… 

AAU, the oldest higher learning institution in Ethiopia has conferred in its 73rd inauguration an honorary doctoral degree to an individual who calls himself, “a good-for-nothing man”. The University President made it official at the graduation ceremony of his 8,000 students that one of the two individuals nominated for the honorary doctorate degree at this very academic year was BINIYAM BELETE, the founder of Mekedonia.  

Biniyam Belete was given the chance to say a few words regarding this occasion. The tall slim young man approached the podium, grabbed the mic and took a breath for a while. Then, “I am a good-for-nothing man. I don’t deserve this,” he said, thrusting forward the document he grabbed in his left hand. A young man from the far end of the Millennium Hall cried, “You deserve it!!” 

The doctoral graduates who lined up in the front row were seen with their eyes wet in tears…their reflections on close up shots popped out on the three big screens spread out in front of us.  This was a big moment for us all to see this young but wise, kind and generous man humbly ‘belittling’ himself. He is very humble. He was seen bending down in a complete humbleness while Her Excellency President of FDRE put on the doctoral medal round his neck. How humble he is! A lot of positive things we all in general and the young fresh graduates in particular can draw from this young man! 

“I am telling you that I am an invalid one, for sure. I am not better than a street beggar…” He could not keep on speaking because the roaring of the people was very loud. Amidst all this, all souls in that big hall were drenched with warm tears… But… Why are we people of Ethiopia near to tears? Is it because of the cost of living? Is it because of the bad situation in our country? Is it for our messed up politics and the rampant hate? … What are the causes for our tears that are always near our burning eyes? 

“I am a burden to the community…Yes, I am a burden. I slept the whole day without doing anything. I am the one who does not deserve to live…” Frightening silence descended in that massive hall that was stuffed with multitude of people. Biniyam’s weak voice was piercing our souls, burning our eyes…

“It is God who is revealing Himself through this good-for-nothing man,” Biniyam kept on talking with low voices. “I have no special contribution to get this big award. I am the one being supported by Mekedonia… Today I have been awarded what I don’t deserve. ”

“You deserve it!” a voice heard once again from a corner.

“Mekedonia is the contribution of all. It is the result of your contribution. You all supported this. Ethio-telecom, Ethiopian Air Lines, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Postal Service, Development Enterprises, Yotek Construction, Commissioners starting from the Premier, students, Regional States, Ministerial Offices, City Administrations, Regional Bureaus, local TV stations, radios, big hotels, universities, colleges, individuals, Ethiopians all over the world… Even the brokers do not ask for payment when it is for Mekedonia… Eritreans are also supporting Mekedonia… Mekedonia is yours. Expand the 25 branches to 120…” his voice died down… Big uproar… clapping… deep silence…

How happy I was to be in that place at that moment! A big hug to Biniyam Belete! A big hug to Mekedonia! A big hug to AAU! A big hug to my beloved people!  

Available sources indicate that Mekedonia, a humanitarian association, was founded on 7 January 2010 by Biniyam Belete with the aim of supporting elderly and mentally sick people. The organization, established under the legal supervision of the Ethiopian Federal Government Charities and Societies Agency, provides the elderly and disabled people with housing, clothing, food, counseling, hygiene facilities, medical care, education, information and other necessities.

Figures taken from the web page of Mekedonia shows that there are 3, 100 elders; 1,450 bed riders, 1,560 mentally disabled, 1,190 physically impaired; 200 visually impaired with a total number of 7,500 compatriots being supported by the organization.

My fellow country people, Mekedonia Humanitarian Association, which was established by the young man who calls himself a good-for-nothing guy, feeds, takes care of, gives shelter… to over 7,000 people on a daily basis in 25 shelters he opened across all regions. Mekedonia spends one million birr on a daily basis to feed all these disabled, ill and elderly people. But the man who made this a reality calls himself a good-for-nothing guy! If he is a good-for-nothing man, what name should be given to the indolent guy like me?  

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