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Giving a Pilot His Wings

By Scott    About ILAE

Adugna (pronounced “ah-DOON-yuh”) is a 14 year old Ethiopian boy who wants to be an airline pilot. He has a charming smile and will talk your ear off if you ask him about one of his interests. His favorite subjects are math and physics, two areas he knows he needs to excel at in order to work towards his dream job. He attended the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE) introductory spring sessions, a set of programs run in the spring of 2013 by ILAE – an innovative college preparatory boarding and day school working to develop a generation of global leaders – to both recruit students for its inaugural 9th grade class and to prepare these students for the school’s launch in September 2013.

So far, his favorite parts about the spring sessions have been his “very funny” instructor from America, who he refers to as Ato Jeff (“Mr. Jeff” in Amharic, Adugna’s native language), and improving his English skills – skills he says he “needs to be able to communicate with [his] plane passengers.” When asked what he thinks of school, he confidently states, “Knowledge is extremely important. When knowledge is developed, a country is developed and when a country is developed, knowledge is developed.”

While his recruitment to ILAE is his own doing (after all, he is the one who impressed ILAE leadership with his self-motivation, excellent grades, and eloquence), he should consider himself one of the lucky youths within Ethiopia to be part of an innovative school program designed to cultivate the global leaders of the next generation, founded by one of the best models of Ethiopian leadership: Haddis Tadesse, Country Representative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

There’s no doubt Adugna has the passion, intelligence, and mindset needed to achieve his goal of becoming an airline pilot. What is in doubt is whether he, and students like him, will have the resources needed to achieve the dreams they are destined to fulfill.

ILAE selects its students primarily from underserved urban and rural areas selected for their aca­demic and leadership potential. This means most of ILAE’s students pay no tuition and are essentially on a full scholarship each and every year. At a cost of $7,500 per student per school year, ILAE is in need of big-hearted donors to directly contribute to the education of their inspired (and inspiring) students. Whether it be $20 to pay for a year’s worth of Adugna’s textbooks, $100 to pay for a month’s worth of Adugna’s meals, or $500 to purchase a computer, allowing Adugna to have extensive experience with technologies he will use as a pilot, any help towards this cause is appreciated. Volunteering of time is equally important as we at Voice Ethiopia look to promote Adugna’s story through social media and aim to spark an interest by relevant companies like Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing in sponsoring Adugna.

Please consider supporting this initiative by visiting our Causes page to donate, or by sharing Adugna and ILAE’s story in any way you can. If you have any questions or ideas about how you can help, please email me at [email protected].

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