Tirubirhan Getnet Darge is a graduating participant in Coady’s Diploma in Development Leadership program. As Executive Director of Good Samaritan Association (GSA) in Ethiopia, Tirubirhan has been working to aid survivors of human trafficking for more than 18 years.

“Our organization’s major activities are to provide shelter, economic empowerment, and health services – for reproductive health and HIV/AIDS – to women and girls who are victims of human trafficking,” Tirubirhan says.

Without education and opportunity, women and girls leave their homes for the promise of a better life.

“Human trafficking is a very big issue in our country. The girls go through brokers and when they return, they come with mental illness and physical abuse. When they come to our shelter, they don’t remember themselves. We provide shelter, food, and medication. We give them training, and we unite them with their families.”

Education, awareness, and partnerships are key to GSA’s work, as they strive to not only treat survivors, but also offer preventative measures. They work with airlines and organizations in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries to identify potential trafficking situations. The organization works through media and television outlets to provide awareness and education to women and girls who are possible targets for traffickers. There are also local economic empowerment opportunities for women and girls so that they may create a life without the need to flee.

Tirubirhan emphasizes that these partnerships are integral to the organization’s work.  This includes GSA’s partnership with Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) – a key partner for Coady’s EMPOWER project which has provided support for Tirubirhan and others to attend Coady.

“WISE offers sharing and networking; a local university volunteers social workers; local hospitals offer psychiatrists and doctors; and there are partners in governmental and non-governmental organizations – we have so many partners who help us in different ways.”

Even after 18 years of leading a successful organization and impactful change, Tirubirhan believes there is always room to learn, grow, and improve.

“I’ve been leading for so many years but now I see my leadership style – and that my style must change. I’ve learned here how to change it to a bottom to top approach which is more participatory at the grassroots levels.”

After completing a certificate in Learning Organizations and Change in 2017, and now graduating from Coady’s flagship Diploma in Development Leadership program, Tirubirhan says it is important for Coady’s work to continue.

“I already gave the name of Coady to two people because they must come. My organization’s other leaders, they must come here. It is very important to us – for local NGOs, for our community. Coady must be continued. It is very important.”