Buraka Memorial Foundation

Buraka, a resident of Arya Jawi (about ten kilometers from the city of Nekemte), lived roughly from 1830-1900. The story handed down through fireside chats spanning four generations goes as follows. 

Buraka was an only child of Gurmu. The tall and handsome farmer led a decent living although not at levels one  would boast of as steeped in wealth, at least not of the material kind. As the story tellers would have it, what he possessed in abundance was an immense social capital flowing from his selfless service to the community. Word got around, of his popularity, prowess in community leadership, and unrivaled horsemanship, ultimately reaching the attentive ears of the then governor of Wollega, Dejazmatch Bakare Kumsa. Moved by plaudits of bravery and courage, and in recognition of Buraka's public services, the governor decided to form a friendship with the proud farmer. This, in those days took the form of marriage or adoptions. The course the governor chose was  adopting one of Buraka's sons. To his surprise, Dejazmatch Bakare was initially rebuffed over mannerisms and protocols which did not recognize Buraka's esteemed eminence in the community. The governor's wishes were ultimately consummated following a long arduous negotiation involving high level officials of the time.  As a final measure of recognition, the governor sent his personal emissaries to select one of Buraka's sons for transfer over to governor's residence. Buraka, the mighty horseman remained unimpressed by the improved overture, stating instead, “my children are not puppies to be picked at will for adoption". He demanded the personal presence of the governor himself if the adoption was to be effected. Such was the audacity of Buraka who cared less for official titles, or material wealth and always frowned upon ingratiation. Impressed and intrigued by Buraka’s response, the governor's curiosity was piqued. He found himself visiting Arya Jawi and was  moved in equal measure  by Buraka's magnanimity following the banquet given to his large entourage. Gemeda Buraka who was later to become Fitawrari Gemeda Kumsa (his adopted name) was officially adopted by Dejazmach Bakare as the most favored of Buraka's sons. Fitawrari Gemeda grew up to become an eminent member of Bakare's adoptive family and  served Wollega governorate general with distinction and dedication until his death.

Buraka’s descendants who, today number in the several hundreds, have decided to create the Buraka Foundation in memory of Buraka of Arya Jawi whose exemplary and distinguished services were recognized far and wide. 

The general objective of the foundation is to improve the living conditions of the people of Arya Jawi community and its environs through awareness raising, resource mobilization and assisted self-help. Arya Jawi community is presently facing deep socioeconomic challenges due to the prevailing abject poverty, unprecedented environmental degradation, plummeting agricultural production, lack of safe potable water, inaccessibility to main roads, and overall neglect on the part of government - both regional and federal. It is obvious that these developmental challenges cannot be addressed by a  single action. Actions aimed at tackling the varied needs must be prioritized and key interventions identified. For the community to pull itself out of these predicaments, the integrated interventions we espouse will include economic development, cultural/anthropological studies, preservation of culture, health education, environmental rehabilitation, road construction, safe water supply, agricultural extension services, capacity building activities, etc. The above program components reflect general needs to be addressed in phases as resources permit. The immediate need is that of  awareness raising through social mobilization and capacity building to be followed by prioritized actions. The recommended umbrella strategy is the promotion of self-help and self-reliance with the ultimate goal of achieving community resilience and sustainable improvements in socioeconomic well being while guarding against  the dangers of a creeping  dependency syndrome brought on by the assistance the Foundation provides, hence the use of the phrase assisted self-help.

As the first course of action, the Buraka Foundation, has decided to launch a community awareness and education program to target and reach children that have the greatest need. The goal is to provide financial help so that these children can be in school rather than staying at home and do chores as their parents would rather have them do to solve their own need for helping hands as well as reduce or eliminate the cost of educating a child.  

1.Education Component

Education is key to development. For years, poverty has limited access of the community’s children to education. Despite the relative proximity of Arya Jawi, to Nekemt, the rugged terrain of the area has made the community “near” and “remote” at the same time. The combined impact of poverty and lack of transportation worked to the detriment of children’s education.  Although limited efforts had been made to open a primary school in the area, this effort did not succeed and it was not possible to provide access to quality education. Worse still, those who had completed certain grade levels could not continue by relocating to in Nekemte due to lack of financial support.

In view of the above complex problems, Buraka Memorial Foundation aims at providing support (sponsorships) to promising but needy boys and girls so as to enable them to pursue their education at both elementary and secondary levels. The support package will be determined at the field level taking into account the local context. At any given time, 10-20 students will be supported; however, this figure is subject to revision in light of fund availability.

2.   Project Implementation Strategy

2.1Identification and Recruitment of Buraka Descendants

The success of the education project will  depend heavily on the implementation mechanisms that will be put in place. The most important steps include identifying, convincing, and getting the unswerving commitment of Buraka descendants to agree to a set of goals. Most of Buraka descendants are spread out far and wide with little or no communication  between them. It is hoped that one of the added benefits of the Buraka Foundation will be to revive and maintain communications between the descendants. This would foster dialogue on good cause efforts at launching community self-help programs based on a common lineage. Buraka remains the one common father ancestor - a great great grandfather - to all of us. In this way, Buraka's birth village, Arya Jawi shall remain the ancestral focal point for remembrance and can be visited by any family member at any time. This means that it is incumbent on these descendants to contribute to the overall development of the Arya Jawi community through voluntary and sacrificial giving. In doing so, Buraka descendants will continue upholding a common goal which will eventually lead to the creation of enabling invirnonments to usher in an era of reduced poverty, education for all children and optimal health for all infacts and mothers as well as children and adults.  Beyond the shadow of a doubt, a long gone hero of  Buraka’s stature  deserves a Foundation.

2.2 Management Structures

The structures proposed below are subject to revisions pending the offer of alternative approaches or suggestions by committee members. Three decision making bodies have been proposed:

2.2.1 Executive Committee in Diaspora

This consists of members who co-ordinate activities on behalf of Arya Jawi.

Duties and Responsibilities

·Facilitate the election of executive members
·Carry out advocacy activities on behalf of Arya Jawi
·Collect annual contributions/donations and transfer them to Ethiopia.
·Receive feed-back from members and take appropriate actions
·Explore possibilities of annual/bi-annual meetings of general membership or use       modern communication technologies  to conduct businesses
·Run “Arya Jawi: News and Views” Newsletter
·Sensitize and motivate the general membership to be up to date in their annual          contributions
·Review reports on Arya Jawi and take appropriate actions through the Addis                  Ababa Committee.
·Carry out related activities that will be in the best interest of Arya Jawi

2.2.2 Addis Ababa Executive Committee 

This consists of members who co-ordinate activities on behalf of Arya jawi.

Duties and Responsibilities

·Facilitate the election of executive committee members
·Carry out advocacy activities on behalf of Arya Jawi
·Collect annual contributions/donations and transfer them to Nekemte
·Receive feed-back from members and take appropriate actions
·Encourage the general membership to visit Ayra Jawi if and where possible
·Explore possibilities of annual/bi-annual meetings of general membership or use       modern communication technologies to conduct businesses
·Run “Arya Jawi: News and Views” Newsletter
·Review reports on Arya Jawi and take appropriate actions through Addis                 Ababa Committee
·Sensitize and motivate the general membership to be up to date in their annual          contributions
·Carry out related activities that will be in the best interest of Arya Jawi

2.2.3 Nekemte Executive Committee

This consists of members who execute and monitor day-to-day activities and decision at the grassroots level in collaboration with church elders at Arya Jawi and with the Director of Arya Jawi School.

Duties and Responsibilities 

·Facilitate the election of executive committee members
·Work Closely with parents/guardians of beneficiary children
·Develop detailed child selection criteria
·Develop code of conduct for beneficiaries to ensure that sponsored children get maximum benefits out of the sponsorship program. The code of conduct shall cover conditions under which a beneficiary may forfeit the sponsorship.
·Ensure that there will be transparency and accountability in the management of        funds
·Prepare and submit periodic financial and performance reports to be reviewed and used by the Addis Ababa and Diaspora committees. Accounts shall be audited yearly and reported to appropriate bodies. 
·Keep good records on finances and beneficiary children
·Submit any information that may be requested to Addis Ababa Committee
·Receive, host and brief visitors on the sponsorship program
·Create  conducive conditions for the sponsored children in secondary schools in        particular to play leadership roles in the  community
·Conduct literacy classes for adults with focus on women groups
·Organize discussion forums on subjects such as child rearing practices, Buraka         Memorial Foundation, health education, etc for the community members.
·Carry out related activities that will promote the best interest of Arya Jawi                community

3. Income/Funding

The education program will be financed by the contributions of members at the Diaspora and Addis Ababa level. The Nekemte committee members have been exempted on account of their services in kind. The members of the Diaspora Committee are expected to voluntarily contribute USD 20 per month (USD 240) a year. Donations in kind are also highly appreciated. Modalities for collection of funds and transfer will be worked out by the Executive Committee. The members of the Addis Ababa committee will contribute Birr 20 per month (Birr 240) a year. Modalities for collection of funds and transfer will be worked out by the committee. 

4. Fund Management

Funds collected and transferred to Nekemte will be deposited in a designated bank account and operated by two individuals who are members of the Nekemte Committee. Use of checks is highly encouraged. Proper financial records shall be kept for annual audit which is mandatory. The Nekemte committee shall prepare guidelines in financial management with the assistance of the Addis Ababa Committee.


The names of participants (descendants) at different levels will be circulated at a later date. Interested individuals and well-meaning organizations are always welcome to support the Foundation. During the launch phase, election of office–bearers may be waived in favor of individuals who volunteer to spearhead desired approved activities and planned actions of the Foundation.