Over the next few weeks, we are excited to be sharing with you snippets from our MANALÉ DAGNEW INTERVIEW SERIES: PART I. Our foundation, now four years in the making, is a labor of love of our founder, Ethiopian born-and-raised Manalé Dagnew. Manalé's remarkable story bears the roots of our mission, a tale that connects Ethiopia's past and present with a dream for a better future. We are proud and honored to be forging forth on our mission to rebuild this school, which is presently in a sadly dilapidated, dangerous state, with crumbling infrastructure and contaminated drinking water. Our renovation will provide the Dil-Ayen School children and staff with a safe and clean learning environment.
When and how did your idea to start Manalé Foundation originate?
MANALÉ: As long as I can remember, I have felt a calling for helping others. When I was growing up in boarding school in Ethiopia, I lived with a group of girls who likewise lost a parent or two at a young age. I believe our shared sense of loss united us, instilling in us a deep sense of compassion. After every dinner, together would sneak food to give to the local blind men. This practice of tending to the less fortunate was likewise something I learned from my family; our home would draw homeless people as they could depend on us for food.
Sharing what I had with others in a sense became part of my DNA, something I resolved as a girl to continue to do throughout my life. I understood early on that giving back was a core part of my life’s purpose. I have been involved in various philanthropy endeavors throughout my life, but it wasn’t until four years ago that I decided to make philanthropy my primary focus by merging my career as a fashion designer with helping my native Ethiopia. Manalé Foundation was thus born, and Manalé International, my Ethiopian-inspired fashion + accessories label, became a platform whereby I could share with others the beauty and story of Ethiopia while raising funds to support the foundation.
Pictured here are a few Dil-Ayen students on campus, taken this April by our founder, Manalé Dagnew, when she was in Ethiopia overseeing Stage I of our Dil-Ayen campus renovation. Having spent time with the students, taking the opportunity to get to know them, Manalé was moved by their eagerness to learn and their immense potential.
Ethiopia's future belongs to these children. By helping today’s youth obtain sufficient education, we can contribute to a better Ethiopia of tomorrow.
Manale Foundation’s mission is to bring opportunity to children in Ethiopia through charitable donations funding their education. Manale Foundation is presently raising funds to reconstruct the Dil-Ayen government elementary school in Belessa of the Amhara region. This renovation will include providing its 700+ students with educational materials, such as textbooks, chalkboards, and school supplies.