Born in Bishoftu town, Hana Hailu 23 is a young motivational speaker, personal development trainer, and writer. Starting as a volunteer since an elementary school student, she has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management from Hawasa University. Resuming her long-time volunteerism career Hana is currently working on various issues especially changing the mindset of youth to bring about change at the national level, which she says should be given priority than other development efforts.
How did you to become a motivational speaker?
I have been a volunteer for more than 10 years. I did not enter into it intentionally. There used to be a problem with the environment. So I have to find a place to hide. Usually, when youth face a problem they hide in additive things. Then I resorted to reading books …and participating in various clubs changed my focus of attention. I learned that if a human being is given food shelter etc. it does not change any better. The books that I read used to guide me. I remember certain though like “mind feeding” used to popup in my mind. Then I started to believe that by working on the mind of people it is possible to change people’s minds. Many of those around me were saying no, you cannot… When I was in grade 8 I wrote an article entitled “call for help” I released it on social media. The content was just like a call made by those ailing people seeking help from others for medication. It read “I have a big dream, but I have no means. So please help me I will pay back the favor.”
This way I was able to get some people how could help me. I feel like I am an opportunity hunter. I always try to exploit everyone to the last point I can. I urge people to help me, to contribute to me. Then I met some people. I told him that I want someone to mentor me. Then for two years, I was mentored for personal development…, I then started to copy people’s role models. I found out that successful people have unique features.
I also think that the problem in our country is not that of road or building, but of knowledge and thought. Then I believed that by investing on the mind of people we can bring about change. That has a phase, awake, be awakened ….be able and enable. Now I am at awake. I am making others awake.
What are you doing now in awakening others?
During the last years I have reached many youth, 9 universities. Various high schools, NGOs. Many youth are my age and understand me than other people. When I go with older people they rather prefer to listen to me. They start to think “If she can do this, what about us?” When older people tell them they consider it as an advice. Advice doesn’t change people.
Many of us invest in tangible roads and buildings. What we learn has not become on the ground and tangible. Youth do not know who guides them. We usually talk about youth fault. This way they learn how to destroy. That is what we learn every day. I know many youths who have the vision. When I was a 3rd-year student there used to be serious unrest. We thought about how to stop that. Then we started to clean the road as an attention diversion method. The media also invest in the destructive acts of the youth. One of the youth said no media will give us attention if we tell them that we are going to clean the road. So let’s burn tires and when the media comes we will tell them that we are actually intending to clean the road. We did accordingly and they came. What inspires the media is the destruction. Therefore, the media itself doesn’t appreciate the good deeds of the youth. This has to change. Relevant bodies including the government seat and talk when the youth destroy, but nobody does anything against the process. If there are those who work on the process I know much youth who have changed. … There are many who supply fuel when a match is stricken, but no door is open when the youth want to engage in development. I believe that we have to do in mindset changing.
What are your indicators?
Many youths start a journey without knowing where they are going. You have to tell the driver where you want to go before he starts the journey. In my trainings, I tell them that they have to know their goal. For instance, like any other youth, I have my own ethnicity. But I don’t jump into ethnic politics because it is against my vision.
I really believe that life needs awareness beyond knowledge. There are some people who are dynamic but not educated. They develop this through reading.. So I share videos.
What are the significance of your videos for the current Ethiopia?
When you plant trees, you choose the seed. Many people try to turn on the light before turning on the breaker at the gate. This doesn’t work. In our case, the breaker is our mind. So we have to work on our minds. If you don’t change the seedling tree you cannot expect a different fruit.
How did the breaker turn off?
Those who were aware in the past were not willing to aware others. The government, too is not working on mind set. Third we are also to blame.
What is the response of the society?
In the beginning, it was challenging. First, there is no income in our work. Most of the work is a volunteer. But I worry about the outcome than the income. People’s response to acknowledging my effort is more than money. But through time people started to accept when they see my acceptance on media. Society doesn’t understand its importance. Schools do not also … For instance, many high ranking graduates are not successful in their life.
What is their problem?
So you differentiate between knowledge and awakening?
There is a skill gap. There is also a vision gap. They intend to score a good result but they do not know where to go afterward. I have worked on this purposely when I was a student. Many of those who score 4 points only. They read only to be readers.
What about changing those who influence?
First, the media has become the only means of entertainment. The social media solely focuses on entertainment. Shocking news gets more attention than transformational news. We can get a lot of material in Amharic and English, concerning personal development, Ethiopia. I am now trying to prepare materials….
How do you explain the challenges you faced during your volunteerism career?
I have faced all the challenges that someone can ever face. I don’t think there is a challenge that I have not faced. The first challenge is the environment. They say “Stop, you will cool down when you grow up a little. You do this until you complete your education, then you will stop when you suffer you will stop…: So what I did is to change the environment first. Then I surrounded myself with those who can serve as examples for me. I approached some of them with humbleness and others through coercion. Finally, I won. Finance is also a problem. When I go to regions to give training, Universities may cover but others don’t. The only choice I have is to spend my own money. If it were for destructive purposes like if I represented my ethnicity … I may get a lot of support.
The other is lack of opportunity. Many people have closed the door. I tell them that I have a vision. If you don’t have a vision you will be a fuel with which other people cook theirs.
One day I left my home taking the words of a famous person. But when I reached there he denied me. And I told him that one day I will realize my vision and meet him again. So After graduation that influential person gave me a call to ask for my help. He didn’t know that I was that small girl he pushed away many years ago. I reminded him and he was ashamed. So these all are my stories of ups and downs. My stories are no more like I went bare feet … etc. But it is the story of those who dodged me. When they do so I stay resilient and do my best. I never despair. I have actually gone desperate twice. But this was fuel for me. It made me stand up again.