Aster Bekele – Ethiopian Youth and Nurturing Confidence

This is an excerpt from an interview I conducted with Felege Hiywot Center‘s founder  Aster Bekele. The two of us sat down and chatted about her history in Ethiopia, her tenure as a scientist at the Eli Lilly Institute, and her passion for helping second generation Ethiopian youth discover their history.

    If you take a left onto Sheldon street while heading east on 16th (turning before the HWY 65 underpass), you will see two small house like structures surrounded by a chain-link fence filled with rows and rows of garden beds. Outside a sign reads, “Felege Hiywot Center-Youth Educational Program”. Black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s lace, buzzing bees, and tall prairie grass greet you as you enter through the gate. Walking into the plot, you can almost hear the hum of growing things. The smell of basil, rosemary, tomatoes, and collard greens fill the air punctuated by the sounds of chickens clucking. It is a small plot pulsing with life.

The same could be said about FHC’s founder and Executive Director, Aster Bekele, who welcomed me with a wide smile and a laugh. Aster is a small Ethiopian woman who is full of energy. We sat down on plastic chairs at the gathering room’s tables while one of the center’s volunteers washed vegetables in the kitchen.Felege Hiywot Center’s story begins with second-generation Ethiopian immigrants. In 1974, when Aster was eighteen, she emigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. to pursue her degree in chemistry. During her schooling she began living at 25th and Martindale in Indianapolis where she volunteered her time as an after-school tutor available to help kids in the neighborhood with their studies…

This article was originally published on The Sagamore Institute’s Bright Ideas blog and can be read in full here.