UWF strives to build more progressive Oromo communities that promote productivity and self-reliance through community-owned and sustained solutions in academics, economics, social, and cultural affairs.
Lifting Our Communities Up Through Service
Committed To A Better Tomorrow
Uta Wayu Foundation (UWF) is a non-profit organization established to advocate for community-owned solutions to various problems and inadequacies that affects the Uta Wayu zone of Arsi in the Oromia region. Since the formation of UWF, we have focused on four areas of major disparities; Education, Health, Community Development, and Youth Engagement.
It was a simple idea generated by college students having lunch at Davannis Pizza in Minneapolis, MN in early 2008. The Uta Wayu region of Arsi in Oromia Ethiopia was recently shattered by drought and famine. The Oromo church, the Oromo community, and the Oromo youth made a concerted effort to help with this calamity. Close to ten thousand dollars were raised by our group alone and sent to help reach the most affected communities. This would be the beginning of something bigger.
Ideas started floating regarding what we (the college students) can do for our area to prevent or mitigate more disasters. All agreed on the need for a more self-reliant community. We thought education was the vehicle to produce such a society. We (nine of us) decided to forgo a cup of coffee and instead put twenty (20) dollars together per month towards this cause. We were to use the money to put local kids who were unable to afford higher education in school.
Soon, a new organization to be named Uta Wayu education foundation was born. Couple people on the ground in Oromia were picked to execute our new idea.
Immediately, two students were selected by our local committee based on financial needs and put through school. The practice became controversial when students start demanding money to be given to them, instead of paying directly to the schools. Our group also started to get discouraged due to lack of progress. Many decided to stop their monthly contribution as the money in the bank was not being put to good use. Some left the group altogether.
In early 2012, few members decided to give this group another shot. We met regularly via teleconference to hammer out our vision and mission. We agreed to seek non-profit status. We also encouraged those members who went mute to return. Many still kept silent. With help from Phil Duran, JD of MAP for nonprofit, we received 501c(3) nonprofit status in 2014. We were emboldened by this achievement. As part of our application for nonprofit status, we expanded our scope. We decided to focus on four key areas of our society’s needs; education, community development, healthcare, and youth engagement.
In 2015, UWF gained more membership when a newly established organization named “Uta Wayu Self-Help Association” joined UWF. With newly found membership and an election of a brand new board, UWF scaled its services up. The newly elected board drafted a new bylaw and so we began. The aforementioned key areas of focus were matured.
Education goes back to our core belief that it is the only weapon to fight poverty. We are committed to improving local schools’ access to education. This includes making sure people have libraries and books. Ensure that there are enough instruction materials for teachers to provide the most informative lessons (e.g. microscopes, globe maps, etc.). Also, we remained dedicated to scholarship and mentorship. Our first scholarship project was rolled out at Wotara Middle school, where the top three eighth-graders going to high school will get a full scholarship to Ethiopian Adventist College at Kuyera or High schools with similar caliber in the surrounding cities. In addition to the top three eighth-graders, the top girl in her class was added to Wotara students to maintain that girls are intentionally included in these efforts. The students have their tuition, books, and boarding and meal covered at 100%. These efforts are planned to be expanded to as many middle schools in the Utawayu zone as possible.
Community Development is a broad term referring to help the locals helping themselves. We want to focus on bringing access to clean water to rural communities. We also hope to assist locals to build infrastructures such as roads, bridges, and public services centers in their areas. This is, of course, to be done in coordination with local people and government.
Our vision for Healthcare revolves around the idea of public health-based education, water sanitation, and medical missions. We will like to garner an effort to have a robust education in public health where students and teachers from local schools will teach local communities proper sanitation and healthy lifestyles. We also hope to work with other groups to bring much-needed healthcare and healthcare equipment to local clinics. We like to coordinate and encourage western medical missionaries to provide much needed medical and surgical services in these villages when possible.
The youth engagement portion of our aim will mostly focus on young people here in America. We would like to build an institution that engages young people that cares for their communities at home and abroad. This may take a form of mentorship and scholarship in various disciplines, in return for future promise to serve our community. It may also take a form of sports and activities that bring young people together, with emphasis on leadership development and community services. Eventually, we would like to have an annual youth conference to discuss and solve the problems affecting our areas. As part of our youth engagement program, we would like to create a culture of community ownership and volunteerism. The idea of volunteering in your community will be expanded to our young people at local schools in Ethiopia.