Cultivating Young Ethiopian Women Into Leaders

Gabriella Sirak (photo: The Reporter)

Gabriella Sirak works with Meri Leadership and Mentorship and she is helping empower the next generation of leaders within the capital. Here, she reflects with Samuel Getachew of The Reporter on the initiative, on mentorship, partnership and the long-term vision of the program that has attracted much attention in recent months from powerful actors from different sectors. Excerpts:

The Reporter: The first cohort of Meri Leadership and Mentorship program was completed this month. Tell me about the program?

Gabriella Sirak: Meri is a program launched by Earuyan Solutions in partnership with Dereja.com. The program is intended to introduce and match female university students in their final year with experienced career and business women in Ethiopia.

The underlying philosophy behind the Meri Leadership and Mentorship program is that networks are a crucial part of developing various skills and widening the personal and professional horizons of young Ethiopian women with leadership potential. The Meri program also incorporates leadership training for three months to help the mentees further develop their leadership skills whilst also enrolled in the mentorship training. In turn, the combined program will allow us to not only get career advice and mentorships on our last year of graduation but also equip us with the necessary skills that will help us navigate the employment/entrepreneur world.

For me, Meri embraces the understated and key truth that the youth is the standing stone of a nation. Meri is more than just a program. It goes above and beyond by acquainting us with so many values ranging from sisterhood to perseverance.

Meri’s trainings were mainly focused on self; emphasis was continuously given on the significance of personal development and self-mastery. Meri had various enlightening areas of discussion which ranged from self-discovery to self-awareness, value mapping to self-engineering, networking to negotiation skills, the art of letting go to meditation and so many more, each given by different qualified trainers.

I have learned so much from Meri – it is basically a modified and more powerful version of the 17 years of formal education I had taken. It was more powerful because of the practicality and inclusion of all the things I did not get a chance to learn there. Through this program, I was able to get a glimpse of a dramatically different life my sheltered mind could have never imagined. I have become a truer and hence a better version of myself. I sometimes wish I could have paused for a before and after “picture”. Had I taken it, the before Meri picture would have looked like an old television struggling to display an image. God forbid, anyone trying to look at it would have gotten a migraine. God permit, anyone who looks at the after pictures of all the thirty Meri girls would definitely recommend to turn these extraordinary collections into a one of a kind gallery.

Even though the first cohort of Meri leadership and mentorship program just ended, it has left a huge mark on me. I will enthusiastically keep on exercising these twelve weeks of lessons for as long as I shall live. This is just the beginning. I am very eager to see what flourishes from the next cohorts. I am certain the next Meri girls are going to become even more dynamic and influential as the training and mentoring becomes even more refined.

Read the complete interview at: The Reporter

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