By some counts, there are over 250,000 Ethiopians who call the DC metro area home. The number is most likely significantly higher given the inexact nature of quantifying immigrants and the fact that a lot of newcomers are averse to identifying themselves. Outside of our homeland, the DMV has the highest concentration of Ethiopians in the world and our community is the second largest immigrant population from Africa.

The one thing that we are missing as a community is a common platform where people with audacious visions can team up and work together. In fact, all too frequently, we have a way of valuing competition over partnership. When we realize that cooperation is better than working in opposition, there will be a sea change both within the Ethiopian “diaspora” and back home. The key to prosperity is unleashing the latent power of collaboration.  

This is where Helen Mesfin, the host of the Helen Show and the founder of Empower the Weekend steps in. After spending seven years in front of the camera bringing the stories of Ethiopians and the issues we face as a community to the forefront, she decided to leverage her credentials to put together an event that coalesces a broad dissection of Ethiopians in the DC area in a one day symposium with the aim of empowering our community.

The inaugural event in 2017 at the DC Convention Center was a smashing success; Empower the Community Weekend drew more than 2,000 people and featured speakers in professions ranging from finance, real estate, fashion and philanthropy. Last year’s event attracted an even bigger audience and featured Dr. Senait Fisseha, Judge Nina Ashenafi and Tsegaye Legesse. The third annual Empower the Community Weekend, which will be held at the DC Convention Center this Saturday, will once again bring together our community under the umbrella of unity and show the value of collaboration. This year’s feature speakers include Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO Tefere Gebre and a full slate of influential voices within our community who are making an impact in America.

Beyond highlighting audacious thinkers and enterprising Ethiopians, there is another aspect of Empower the Community Weekend that is to be admired and celebrated. Being an immigrant in a new land away from our homes has many challenges, all of us miss our birth land and some of us never had the chance to actually know the beauty and blessings of Ethiopia. Empower the Community gives Ethiopians who have been away from home for a long time or were born abroad a chance to connect to our roots and breathe in the essence of Ethiopia.

One of the people who will speaking during the “Career Pavilion” this Saturday is Tiffany Lancaster. Born to an Ethiopian mother and shortly thereafter orphaned at a young age, Tiffany grew up in America disconnected from the land that courses through her blood and the community that lives in her heart. It was this void in her heart, and subsequent tragedies she encountered growing up, that drove her into a life of crime and addiction as a teenager. Upon facing a ten year sentence for breaking into cars, she was given a new lease on life by a commissioner who gave her a choice between redemption and prison.

Tiffany chose God and God led her back to a home that she never knew existed. Gone are the days of breaking laws and tempting consequences, Tiffany started a movement called Purify Love and has dedicated herself to giving hope to others who are wrapped in the netela of hopelessness. She went on to be elected on the board of the DC Federation of Democratic Women and is currently the second vice chair.

Tiffany is an example that the scars that we bear are not sources of shame but testimonies of God’s grace and life’s limitless possibilities.

Empower the Community Weekend gives a platform to Ethiopians like Tiffany who are inspirations to the younger generation and the elders alike that life is a blessing or tribulation as we make it. This is a parable of who we are as a community, no matter the pains that occur in our lives or the hardships that our country is going through, we can rise above our circumstances and turn adversity into victory as we empower ourselves and empower our community.

Three years ago, Helen was determined to shine a spotlight on positive and successful voices in our community so that they can be a model for others to emulate. One day, Ethiopia will once again become a nation among nations and in the process transform the whole of Africa; that day will arrive when driven and energetic Ethiopians connect instead of working apart.

Collaboration is the vision that #EmpowertheWeekend is working towards and why we encourage #Ethiopia|ns throughout the DC metro area to attend this important community event. Click To Tweet

Click on the picture below to find out full details about the 2019 Empower the Community Weekend event.