The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he’s able to receive, Albert Einstein said.
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 5000 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. Yet, he persisted.
< p>“Sacrifice is necessary for my people,” Nasser said. “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 take for granted.
In 2007, he organized Yeewket Admas with a board of 12 friends 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.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Now, Ethiopians have access to free public libraries at 21 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.
“Everybody 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.
Nasser thanks committee members DJ Ababa, Paul Cobb, Richard Knee, Carol Knee, Dr. Connie Potrero, Yusef Hassan, and the committee in Ethiopia.
For more info or to make a contribution, visit http://yeewketadmas.wordpress.com or call Ahmedin Nasser at 202-677-8458.