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Agazi is the name of a school located in Adigrat, Tigray, Ethiopia. Agazi School has been more of a need for support from Alumni and friends. The number of students joining the school has increased in the past few years and the school budget per student has dwindled and the cost of running the school has substantially increased. Nevertheless, students and teachers of the school are defying the difficult conditions they face and carry on their daily school works. They need our support to facilitate their education, and to overcome their challenging circumstances.
History of Agazi School Alumni Association
The activities of Agazi Alumni predate the legal formation of the Agazi School Alumni Association in 1963 EC. In fact students of Agazi during the 1950's (EC) may remember the hand held battery operated loudspeaker which was donated by Agazi alumni who were attending Atse Yohannes High School in Makalle. This loudspeaker had some laughing matters that you probably had heard how Sheka Weres addressed a school gathering holding the speaker near his ear and started talking.
Other activities of the community-oriented alumni who were themselves students at the Haile Selassie I University (now Addis Ababa University) include the tutorial program. During their vacation in the summer (kremti), these dedicated children of Agazi were offering special tutorial classes to students who completed grades 7 and 11 and who were expected to take the 8th and 12th grade national exams the following academic year. It was to help them perform better at those exams. These activities of the alumni were in operation long before the Association was legally formed.
The association was formed with the hard work of all its alumni and respected community members in Addis Ababa. Before its legal recognition, the organizers were faced with many difficulties including some hesitation by some alumni. Among the few people who were active in organizing all these activities and later served as officers in Addis Ababa were: Ato Ambaye Gezahegne, Ato Haileselassie Derso, and Ato Reda Tamarat. While everyone was helping with fundraising and all other activities and it may not be appropriate to pick a few names from the community of many, we thought it would give a good reference to some of our young readers and members that we tried to include a few more names both who were in Adigrat and others in Addis who could be recognized for their role with the alumni. Among these are: Ato Kahsai Gebrehiwet, Gebremeskel Kahsai, Kegnazmatch Seyoum, Hailemariam Derso, Bahta Gebrehiwet, Fitawrari Ambaye Baraki, and memhir Girmay Hagos Baraki. Among the people who served as Board members at the ASAA headquarters in Adigrat were teachers Girmay Hagos Baraki, Aregawi Tedla, Kebede Seife, Yihdego Meles, Arefe Gebretsadik, Alemseged Gezahegn, Lemlem Hagos, Gebrelibanos Tewelde, Gebremichael G.medhin, Embaye G.giorgis.
The major Alumni activities were in Addis Ababa and Adigrat. However, other offices in Makalle, Gondar, Bahr Dar, Dessie and Asmara also played a role. Establishing the association legally was difficult in Addis since the government of Emperor Haileselassie feared an association of Tigrayans could lead to political activity. It was possible only after the then Tigray Governor, Ras Mengesha, was convinced and gave his permission for the association in Tigray.
One of the key rules of the association at that time was its openness to all interested. When it came to contributions for the Association, the Addis Chapter played a major role. The Addis Chapter had successful fundraising events where they were able to collect the money and books that helped the association in developing its first library in Adigrat. All the materials (Mies, Thilo and all other necessary items) were sent from Adigrat through the association. The public library also received donations from Aba Yacob Gebrekiristos who was then operating the Adigrat YMCA on his own effort. When he got a chance to go abroad he donated all his books to the alumni library.
At the initial stages of the library, there was no one specific librarian employed for the job. The school teachers served as volunteer librarians on a rotation basis. After a short period, the association hired Gebremedhin Tesfai as its first librarian immediately after he graduated from Agazi comprehensive high school. Another librarian was Hailu “Jirru” followed by Laake Ghebre, and Hailu Gebretsadik who served till 1977.
If our alumni succeeded in establishing the association and coordinated their help for their community, it could be that there were others before them who had shown keen interest in development programs. Two people that are always mentioned as key to such programs are Dr. Mengesha Geberhiwet and Ato Girmay Hagos Teklu. Dr. Mengesha was the Ethiopian Vice Minister of Education. He was a dedicated person that without his major influence in Addis Ababa many things would not have come to reality. This is not to disregard the other dedicated people who did many valuable contributions financially and morally.
Ato Girmay Hagos Teklu was later employed at the Ministry of Education office in Addis. Having two Agazi alumni at the Ministry of Education Office at the same time may have been one of the good luck opportunity for the opening of the Agazi High school because both worked tirelessly to help their community towards that end. They organized the community to come up with the financial support while they worked with officials in getting the recognition and need for a high school. In case you are confused by the many Girmay Hagos’s in Adigrat, this Girmay Hagos is the father of Biruk Girmay who is himself an active member of ASAA in North America. Ato Girmay Hagos as an alumni of Agazi was a very far sighted person who thought much on the development of Adigrat in general and Agazi in particular. He was fighting for the development of a good health center and a better electricity for Adigrat. The Health Center which used to be on the way to Chianadoug was one such result. According to a report on Addis Zemen (see story about Ato Hadgu Gebreyohannes) that was kindly provided to us by Bruck and his family, the health center was built by the support of our alumni in 1957 EC. Ato Hadgu provided the university students with housing.
According to statements we obtained from Ato Berihun Belai who was the head of Adigrat Municipality in 1956 EC, both Dr. Mengesha and Ato Girmay traveled from Addis to participate in organizing support for development programs in the Agame area. Among the issues discussed in one such event was road construction overall as well as with tourism in mind, health services, electricity, and high school. Ato Berihun recalls that the car accident that took away the life of Ato Girmay Hagos Teklu in 1956 EC happened when both Dr. Mengesha and Ato Girmay were returning to their work in Addis Ababa after attending a meeting in Adigrat.
Among the success stories of these two dedicated Agazi Alumni was the meeting that was held to open a high school in Adigart. Ato Girmay Hagos Baraki recalls on the day many influential people from Agame were to meet, Ato Kahsai Gebrehiwet approached Balambaras Mehari Hagos and asked him if he would agree to build one classroom for a high school since he was considering that himself. The reply was without hesitation, yes. There was a calculation that five people could each pledge to build a classroom. On that evening, at the dinner, four of the five expected donors: Balambaras Hadgu, Balambaras Mehari, Ato Kahsi Gebrehiwet, and Ato Yohannes G.Mariam each pledged to build one classroom while others were to build another room. All four rooms were finished during the same summer (Kiremti).
In summary, the Agazi High School was born out of the leadership of its alumni and the dedication of its community. Besides having its alumni as officials in the Ministry of Education in Addis Ababa, the officials at the local level such as Ato Sebhatu Bahre and Girmay Hagos Baraki were key in the success for establishing the school and support for later activities by its alumni. In the end, the benefit is not for the alumni since they are done with their school, but for the children that attend the school in the future regardless of where they came from and for the community in particular and the country in general.
The purpose of Agazi School Almuni Association NA is just a continuation of what our brothers and sisters had done despite the difficulties they faced. We hope we could do better than what they have done because we believe we have much better conditions now than it used to be during their time. This will be the challenge for all our members.
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A registered (tax exempt) charity organisation
Registered office: P.O.Box 200115, Denver, Colorado 80220-0115, USA