This is Lij Endalkachew Mekonnen, Prime Minster of Ethiopia from 1 March – 22 July 1974, was also the third President of ENAB elected in 1974
The Ethiopian National Association of the Blind (ENAB) was established in 1960 with its major objective to advance the respect of the universal human rights, equal opportunities and full participation of blind Ethiopians.
ENAB is the first association of persons with disability in Ethiopia; it has more than 12,000 active members and 32 branch offices in 5 regions and 2 administrative cities. In its fifty five years of operation, it has been performing various activities, among which education is the one that the association is highly engaged in.
Since 1975, ENAB has been providing education services to an average of 200 blind students annually through its two boarding elementary schools located in the region of southern nations and nationalities of Ethiopia in a special place called Wolaita and in the Oromia region in a special place called Bako from Kindergarten to eighth grade.
ENAB has been working with different stake holders take initiation of text transcription into Braille and supplying different educational materials necessary to blind students at all level, so as they can get well equipped and let them think they can compete with sighted students in secondary schools and higher education.
The aforementioned role of ENAB has enabled thousands of visually impaired students to be self reliant and productive members of their society. The association’s effort has significant positive impact to ensure and sustain the success of visually impaired students in especially in higher education.
The first initiation to establish the organization began in the late 1950s with 10 blind men which further grew to 19 initiators within the following years. The founders started their initiation with the aim to raise public awareness on the rights and privileges of the blind and their potential and contributions to become self-reliant. An associate board with 24 members was established in 1961 to assist the main executive committee. His Imperial Majesty Haileselassie became the first guardian of the Association and through his effort princess Sophia Desta, other royal family members, ministers were among the main supporters of ENAB and first associate leader of Association. His Imperial Majesty Haileselassie I donated 30,000square meters of land in Addis Ababa (near old Air port area) & 1200square meter of land in Addis Ababa around Mekanissa, 120ha of farm land in Oromia regional state Arsi zone, and a grant of Birr 10,000 for initial capital. A fund from government & the business community were obtained for the Association during the same period. ENAB continued carrying out its activity successfully to get more recognition until 1965. Adequate funding and support was made available at this early stage of the organizations development.
The by-law of ENAB was amended on March 6, 1965 and the second executive committee of the association was elected. Out of the 28 committee members 12 of them were blind while the remaining was sighted. The third executive committee was formed on Sept. 10, 1970 and Lij Endalkachew Mekonnen became president. Then after, ENAB continued its advocacy and public awareness activities vigorously under this committee. Office and other buildings for different workshops were constructed on the land owned by ENAB in Addis Ababa. Different handcraft enterprises were established which provided employment opportunities of the blind and demonstrated their ability.
The Fourth election of the Executive committee was made on October 13, 1974. The by-laws were again amended and number of committee members was lowered to 9. They were all blind and elected for a term of 3 years. During this time the primary schools of the Blind in Bako was taken over by ENAB and the Association succeeded in reestablishing the handcraft enterprises at Bako after its closure when the founding missionaries left the country. Branch Association of ENAB was set up in Dessie, Diredawa and Harar for the benefit of the blind in these localities. CBM financial and material assistance was secured during this period and ENAB became more active and better organized.
The fifth election of Executive committee of ENAB was made in October 1977. During this time the primary school of Blind in Wolaita Sodo was taken over by ENAB and the Association succeeded in reestablishing the handicraft enterprises at Wolaita after its closure when the founding missionaries left the country. Branch associations of ENAB were set up in Debre Marcos, Gondar, Debre Berhan, for the benefit of blind in this localities.
The sixth election of the Executive Committee members was made in 1980. The committee made an attempt to improve the accounting & management system of ENAB. Other new improvement was also attempted. An accountant & cashier as well as legal officer were employed at that time to improve the day to day activities. The 7th election was made in October 1983. The 8th election was made in October 1986. The 9th election was made in October 1990. The 10th election was made in October 1994. The 11th election was made December 1996. The 12th election was made in February 2001. The 13th Election was made March 2005 and the 14th election was made in September 2009 and the current chair person is Ato Fikadu Tsega. Since 1983 up to 2009 ENAB has been able to conduct its advocacy and public awareness program for the blind.
However, starting from 2010 it has been compelled to drop its Advocacy work as the new legislation on charities and societies imposed a prerequisite that limited the fund acquired from foreign sources to 10% in order to involve in advocacy. Hence currently it is a resident society engaged in awareness rising, service provision for members and Development activities related to members inclusion in development.
ENAB run two boarding schools for the blind and supplies educational materials to blind students in many government schools, colleges and in Universitys. It has helped so many blind students to complete their education at the primary and intermediate level and from institutions of higher education including Universitys. A large number of blind individuals have benefited from the advocacy and rehabilitation program of ENAB including vocational training and promotion of employment opportunities. Encouraging achievements have been made with regard to public awareness creation on the abilities of the blind to become self reliant and productive citizens.
As mentioned above initially, ENAB was inclined to charity-oriented activities focusing on assisting and supporting its members in their material needs. But as time went by, it was involved in both rehabilitation and advocacy works.
At present and in all its past Vocational and educational rehabilitation have been important undertakings in the organizational history of ENAB, and they will continue to be so in the future.