Notes from the business meeting of E&E RPCVs
Crystal City Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia
September 24, 2016
At the general business meeting of the Ethiopia & Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in conjunction with the National Peace Corps Association annual conference —Peace Corps Connect 2016, His Excellency, Girma Birru, Ambassador of Ethiopia, was in attendance to answer questions of concern and interest.
Ambassador Girma thanked the audience for the opportunity to speak, and commented on the close connection that RPCVS from Ethiopia have maintained with Ethiopia since their service. He appreciated the huge investment Peace Corps Volunteers have made on education and continues to make through the development process. Peace Corps teachers had a great impact on education, the success of which continues to today.
The Ambassador fielded questions respectfully submitted from the floor of an audience of approximately 50 individuals. The comments and questions were on topics including:
- the reports of civil unrest in the country and the response from the government,
- investment from outside,
- plans to increase per capita income,
- supplying power to the countryside through a variety of means including wind and hydropower,
- the success of government controlled Ethiopian Airlines,
- the significant influx of refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan,
- the border conflict with Eritrea,
- and the increase in girls’ education.
Ato Misgina Tesfay Gebreselassie, Minster Counselor at the Ethiopian Embassy, took copious notes for further review. E&E RPCVS are grateful to the Ambassador and Ato Misgina for the time taken to have this conversation.
Tebabu Assefa and his wife, Sara, Founders of Blessed Coffee performed a traditional coffee ceremony that was enjoyed by all in attendance.
Tebabu explained his journey in coming to the U.S. and eventually founding Blessed Coffee. He has graciously offered to work with E&E RPCVS in fundraising activities.
The E&E business meeting
Leo Cecchini (Asmara 1962-64) ran the business meeting and Steve Cristofar (Asmara, Adi Quala, Debarola — Eritrea 1962-64) served as chief organizer of the program. Leo gave a brief overview of events during the last year upon the resignation of Marian Haley Beil (Debra Berhan 1962-64) a year ago.
The new board has five new members, several from the D.C. area. The financial operations will reside with Randy Marcus (Asella 1966-68), the new treasurer, who lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. All banking services have been transferred to a nearby bank. Leo introduced all of the board members in attendance: Amanda Sutker, John Coyne, Steve Cristofar, Randy, and Janet Lee. Leo announced that the board had voted and the new President would be a co-presidency held by Amanda and Janet.
Janet then gave a report on the RPCV Legacy Program projects for Kristen Barados (Fenote Selam from 2007-2009), board member and Legacy Project lead, who was unable to attend. The E&E RPCV Legacy program started in 2003 and has raised $260,000 for eight projects. E&E RPCV is a 501 (c) 3 and donations through the organization are tax deductible. RPCVS are urged to consider planning a Legacy project, and submitting a proposal to the Board for approval. The champion of the project must personally pledge 10 percent to the project. Once sanctioned, the project is included on the E&E RPCV webpage and fundraising may begin. Current projects include:
- Axum Children’s Library Enhancement championed by Dwight Sullivan and Janet Lee
- Borana Student Advancement championed by Fuller Torrey
- Health Guides for 200 Communities championed by Marian Haley Beil
- ITC (computer) Lab for Metu championed by Patti Garamendi and her daughter, Faith.
Janet also notified the membership that back issues of The Herald have been scanned and can be found at: The Herald Archives
Janet also encouraged members to “like” the E&ERPCV Facebook page.
Finally, Janet announced that the next NPCA conference will be held in Denver, June 23 and 24, 2017. She will form a local arrangements committee to work on housing, an Ethiopian meal and the business meeting.
As the meeting closed, Co-Presidents, Amanda Sutker and Janet Lee presented Marian Haley Beil a small bouquet of flowers and a gift certificate on behalf of the membership.