In Ethiopia, a significant number of children spend a depressing childhood and lead a miserable life due to various overlooked difficulties. There have bee attempts by the government to help out these individuals(e.g, by incorporating special needs-education in the curriculum of teachers' education); however, these attempts alone cannot address the large-scale and complex problems and challenges faced by those living with learning and communication difficulties. Besides, the government has a number of other priorities such as ensuring food, security, preventing and controling HIV/AIDS/malaria, etc.
Hence, rather than standing aside and wait untik the government is able to act, in 2012, a group of academics and practitioners, decided to do their part to help children with these difficulties live better lives and achieve their potentials. That's how Fana-Ethiopia came to life.
Since the inception of our organization, we have contributed a lot to better the situation by training teachers assess and handle children with the stated difficulties, educate parents and the general public so that these children can be better understood and supported. We have also been providing specialized supports(assessment and intervention) to those who need them.
Fana Association for Individuals with Learning and Communication Difficulties is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that works to create and raise awareness of learning and communication difficulties and provide help and support to children with these difficulties in Ethiopia. Fana was registered on 20 September, 2012 as an Ethiopian Residents Charity Organization (Registration No. 2866).
Abebayehu M Mekonnen
Message from the Managing Director
When you look into the face of a child who is developmentally delayed or one with a specific learning and/or communication issue, it's hard to know their pain. Often times, a child like this is mocked and ridiculed. Unable to attend school. Unlikely to have friends. In the developed world, such children are generally better understood, accepted and cared for than those born in the developing parts of the glob, many of whom are condemned to suffering. The primary source of ordeal for people with disabilities is lack of awareness of disability issues in societies. In this case, ignorance most certainly is not bliss!
In Ethiopia, for example, there is almost no center providing help and support to individuals with learning difficulties. There is speech and language therapy clinic in a country with a population size of more than 100 million. Countless children are locked up in their homes because they are either developmentally delayed or show signs of autistic spectrum disorder. Others, even those with adequate intelligence, maybe forced to leave school because they demonstrate a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia (reading disability) or some sort of communication issue such as stuttering. An enormous number of children have their cleft palate surgically repaired; but do not receive speech therapy following cleft repair. As a result, for many of them, producing clear and understandable speech remains to be a challenge—a challenge they are not sure if they could ever have a solution for.
Our core belief is that all children deserve to learn the way they learn best, and with access to better support and resources; that children with learning and communication difficulties deserve the support they need to transform their own lives and contribute to nation building.
We are dedicated to work
We are dedicated to work to improve the lives of this group of children by providing the support they need, creating and increasing awareness about such difficulties, co-operating with schools so that they can accommodate these children and by carrying out and supporting well-designed research.
We have talented people
We understand that this is an enormous undertaking but we also have people on our side – talented and committed partners (here in Ethiopian and abroad), volunteers, supporters and staff who share the same values.
We are passionate
We are passionate about helping the children concerned learn and communicate well and thereby improve the quality of their life and increase their productivity.
Mission and VisionOur general objective is to create and improve awareness of learning and communication difficulties and provide support and train professionals to be able to assess and manage children with the difficulties in question.
Our mission is to change the lives of those affected by learning and communication difficulties(LCDs) by creating and raising awareness of these difficulties among members of our society, and providing high quality help and support through our learning center and supporting teachers and educators through the provision of teaching resources and training.
To see a society where those with learning and communication difficulties(LCDs) and/or other disabilities are well understood, accepted and supported and reach their full potentials.
- Having teachers who are well aware of LCDs and trained to support students with these difficulties
- Providing quality services to those who have LCDs
- Increasing the accessibility of our services, through our center/s
- Providing socio-economic support to improve the well being of children with LCDs
- Production and dissemination of culturally and linguistically relevant support materials for those with LCDs
- Establishing and strengthening partnership and working among the like-minded organisations towards achieving the common goals and synergising the efforts
What does FANA mean?
FANA, in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, means ‘dazzling and guiding lights’. We named the charity Fana with the hope of restoring the dreams and aspirations of the children concerned and guiding them towards a brighter future by helping them to realize their full potential.
We are Here for a Child's Dream
It can be imagined the pain that a child who struggles to express himself due to a speech difficulty may feel; or the level of anxiety and self-hatred that a child with a learning disability experiences when she is told to leave school because her speech is unintelligible or she is “too stupid to learn” . This can, and must, be overcome.
How Did Fana Get Started?
The charity is founded by a group of Ethiopian academics and practitioners who share the belief that, in a world that is capable of doing a lot of things, learning and communication difficulties should not hold children back from achieving their potentials.
Our Dedicated TeamWe have staff members on our side who share the same values
Dr. Abebayehu Messele MekonnenFounder & Managing Director
<p>Dr. Abebayehu founded FANA in 2014; and has since been serving as a managing director and chief rehabilitation officer for learning and language disabilities. Under Dr. Abebayehu’s leadership, FANA has been able to carry out, inter alia, extensive outreaches, (on-job) trainings, provision of center- and school-based supports to children having a range of learning and communication needs. For his outstanding services, Dr. Abebayehu has been recognised by Oak Foundation as one of the few remarkable people who have benefited from Oak funding and helped others. Dr. Abebayehu earned his doctoral degree in Clinical Linguistics, from the University of Sheffield, UK.</p>
Abiyou AsnakeCo-founder & Chief Rehabilitation Officer
<p>Abiyou co-founded FANA in 2014 and began his job as a project manager and service delivery officer. Abiyou in particular has been largely involved in awareness creation and professional development trainings, public outreach and stakeholder networking activities. In addition to his Law degree, Abiyou is certified in specific learning disabilities and obtained MA in Special Needs Education from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Abiyou’s areas of interest include: specific learning disabilities, memory, attention, processing speed and behavioural issues. Currently, Abiyu works mainly with children and sults having speciic learning disabilites as well as those with attential and behavoural issues.</p>
Nati GebreCo-founder, Chief Psychologist, Rehabilitation Officer & Administrator
<p>Nati co-founded FANA in 2014 and began her job as a chief service delivery officer and administrator. Her roles in programme planning and execution include: providing awareness creation, professional development trainings and centre-based service provision. On top of these duties, Nati also handles administrative responsibilities of overseeing Human Resources and Organizational functions. Nati is certified in specific learning disabilities and has also got her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Nati is interested in and works on a issues of (specific) learning and neurodevelopmental disorders, emotional, behavoural and mental health, disability and family life, particularly maternal mental health.</p>
Aschalew A. DemisseChief Monitoring & Evaluation, Resource Mobilisation Officer
<p>Aschalew joined FANA in 2017 as a fundraising and resource mobilisation officer. Later, he has also taken additional roles in project design, execution, monitoring and evaluation as well as capacity building. Aschalew has a BA in Sociology, MA in Social Psychology and is a PhD candidate in Social Work. He has also earned Certificates and Advanced Diplomas in Dyslexia Understanding, Advances in Down Syndrome. Aschalew is interested inovercoming the pycho-social and structural barriers of individuals with disability. He is also an advocate for context-relevant Early Childhood Care and Education and play therapy/learning for young children with or whithout disabilities. Currently Aschalew works mainly with children and adults with specific learning disabilities as well as with those having issues with attention, behaviour, and motor and coortination.</p>
Eden B. MaruRehabilitation Officer
<p>Eden joined FANA in 2014 as a caregiver and assistant tutor. Over the years, Eden has worked with a number of children and teens having various learning, communication and/or neurodevelopmental issues. Having completed FANA’s Professional Development Course, Eden is currently working as a rehabilitation officer in the organisation. Eden has a Diploma and BSc in Clinical Nursing. Eden currently works with children reading and writing difficulties as well children and adults with speech-language impairments. Eden also serves the center as a first aider. </p>
TestimonialsCheck out some of our Parent's Reviews
ልጃችን አንተ ጋር ከመጣ በኋላ ላየናቸው አስገራሚ መሻሻሎችና ለውጦች ልናመሰግንህ እንፈልጋለን። ቀደም ሲል በነበሩት ጊዜያት እጅግ በጣም ተስፋ ቆርጦና መኖሩን ጠልቶ ነበር። ምክንያቱም እኛም ሆንን የትምህርት ቤቱ ማኅበረሰብ ሊረዳው አልቻለም ነበር። ያለውን የተለየ ባህርይ እንዲቀይር ተገቢ ባልሆነ መንገድ ከባድ ጫና እናደርግበት ነበር። በትምህርት ቤትም ቢሆን እንደ ረባሽ፣ የማይታዘዝና ሕግ እንደማያክብር ተማሪ ነው የሚታየው። ይህም ልጃችን ከባድ ጭንቀት እንዲይዘው ምክንያት ሆኗል። ትምህርትም የመማር ፍላጎቱ ጠፍቶ ነበር። ትምህርት ቤት የሚሄደው እኛ ስለምናስገድደው ብቻ ነበር። የራሱ ባህርይ ለራሱም ግራ የሚያጋባ ሆኖበት ነበር። የሚያስቀጣውን እና ሌሎችን ሊያበሳጭ የሚችል ነገር ለምን እንደሚያደርግ አይረዳም ነበር። አንተን ካገኘን በኋለ ግን እርሱም ሆነ እኛ የተሰማንን እፎይታ እና ሰላም በቃላት ለመግለፅ ይከብዳል። ከዚያ በኋላ ለራሱ ማሰብና ከሚጎዱት ነገሮች መቆጠብ ጀምሯል። ጉዳዩ የሚመለከተንን የቤተሰቡን አባላት ሁሉ ማናገርህ ደግሞ ትልቅ ውጤት አስገኝቷል። ምክንያቱም የልጁን የተለየ ባህርይ በሚመለከት ሁላችንም አንድ ዓይነት ግንዛቤ እንድንይዝና ተመሳሳይ ድጋፍ እንድንሰጠው አስችሎናል። ወደፊትም ድጋፍ ማድረግህን እንደምትቀጥል ሙሉ እምነት አለን። ለተደረገልን ሁሉ እጅግ በጣም እናመሰግናለን።
I can’t believe we expelled so many bright boys and girls because we thought they were lazy, trouble makers, or stupid. The Bible says: ‘my people perish for lack of knowledge’. I believe that I have just been transformed.
AZ እባላለሁ። አሁን የ አዲስ አበባ ዩንቨርሲቲ 5ኛ ዓመት የconstruction technology and management ተማሪ ነኝ። ከዛሬ 5,6 ዓመት በፊት.... ነበር ፋና የመጣሁት። ከዛ በፊት ችግሬ ስም እንዳለውም ሳላውቅ፤ በራሴ ዋሻ ውስጥ ተደብቄ ነበር። በ Stuttering ምክንያት ብዙ ነገር አጥቼ፤ ከብዙ ነገር ተገድቤ፤ ያለኝን አቅም ቀብሬ ታስሬ ነበር። 👉ሱቅ ለብቻዬ አልሄድም፤ አስተማሪ ጥያቄ አልጠይቅም፤ presentation እማ ሞቴ ነበር። በጣም ብዙ ብዙ ነገር.... 👉ፋና ለኔ የእውነት "ፋና" ነበር። ምን ተከሰተ መሰላችሁ.... የሆነ ቀን ፊልም እያየሁ stutter የሚያደርግ ሰውዬ ነበር እና.... "you are stutterer" እያሉ #ሲያሾፉበት። የችግሬን ስም አገኘሁ....🙈🙊😳 በጣም ደስ አለኝ.... ችግሬ ስም አለው?!....😳 ዓለም ያውቀዋል!?....🙈 ከዚህ በላይ ምን ደስታ አለ?!....🙊 ለብቻዬ አደለሁም?! የሚረዳኝ ሰው አለ ማለት ነው።😳😄 Google search አደረኩ.... ብዙ ነገር ተማርቁ፤ አወኩ..... ለእኔ ትልቅ እረፍት ነበር። በመቀጠል ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ እንደዚህ አይነት አገልግሎት የሚሰጥ ተቋም ካለ ብዬ እንደቀልድ ነበር search ያደረጉት። አገኛለሁ ብዬ ጭራሽ ተስፋ አላደረኩም ነበር፤ Google Search አድርጌ ሴንተሩን ሳገኝ አላመንኩም! ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ እንደዚህ አይነት አገልግሎት የሚሰጥ center አለ?.... ዝም ብዬ ልሞክር ብዬ ደወልኩ..... ሄድኩ.... እውነት ነበር። የሚሰማኝ.... የሚረዳኝ.... ሰው ብቻ ሳይሆን ተቋም አገኘሁ። ሳላወራ የሚረዳኝ.... በነፃ እኔን ለመርዳት ፍቃደኛ የሆነ.... ይህ አጋጣሚ ለእኔ አዲስ ምዕራፍ ነበር፤ ዳግም እንደመወለድ ነበር... የእውነት! ቢያንስ 1 ዓመት በብዙ ነገር ሲደግፉኝ፣ ሲያሰለጥኑኝ፣ እንደ አዲስ የማያስፈልጉ ቅርፊቶችን እያራገፉ ሲሰሩኝ ነበር.... ምን ማለት እችላለሁ.... እግዚአብሔር አብዝቶ ይስጥልኝ! #ከፋና_በኃላ..... #በዚህ_4_ዓመት..... 👉- እቃ ለብቻዬ መግዛት ጀመሪያለሁ... 😄😜 👉- መናገር ባለብኝ ሰዓት እናገራለሁ። 👉- ግቢ ውስጥ በተለያዩ ክበባት መሳተፍ ጀመርኩ 👉 - ያለፈው አመት ከ850 በላይ ተማሪዎችን ያቀፈ ማህበር president ነበርኩ። 👉- ብዙ ስብሰባዎችን እመራለሁ 👉- ከማላቀው ብዙ ሰው ጋር እገናኛለሁ 👉- ተማሪ አስተባብራለሁ 👉- በፊት ተማሪ ሰላም ላለማለት መንገድ የምቀይር ልጅ አሁን አደባባይ ላይ ሆም ብዬ ቆሜ ሰላም እላለሁ።😄😂 👉- የተለያዩ ፕሮግራሞች ላይ ከሌሎች እኩል ተወዳድሬ፤ interview ሳልፈራ፤ መጀመሪያ stammering የሚባል speech disorder እንዳለብኝ አስረድቼ (ባይገባቸውም.....😊) በድፍረት ያለኝን ነገር አቀርባለሁ። -ሁልጊዜ ከፋና ዝም ብዬ እንዲህ በመቅረቴ ይጸጽተኝ ነበር። ግን አንድ ቀን መጥቼ ያሳለፍኩትን ነገር እንደማካፍል፣ ማገዝ በምችለው ሁሉ እንደማግዝ አውቅ ነበር። ይህ ገፅ በመከፈቱ ደግሞ በጣም ደስ ብሎኛል። ትልቅ ነገር ነው። - አሁንም ሁሉ ነገር ሰላም ነው፤ ችግር የለብኝም፤ ምን ተፅዕኖ የለብኝም ለማለት ሳይሆን.... በቃ አሁን ተቀብዬዋለሁ፤ ተቻችሎ መኖርን ይየተለማመድኩ ነው። "#እችላለሁ!".... እውነት ነው እኔ ምስክር ነኝ!🙋♀ በድጋሚ...... ስለሁሉ ነገር እግዚአብሔር ይስጥልኝ! ያክብርልኝ! አመሰግናለሁ!!!!
I've taken part in lots of teachers’ capacity-building trainings, and this is by far the best I've ever attended.
The booklet was prepared in a very simple language, despite the difficulty translating some technical terms into Amharic. Very well done!!
I knew that I wasn’t stupid, but I couldn’t explain to anyone—not even to myself why I wasn’t able to read. I was made to feel stupid at school, and I was eventually forced to leave only because I am dyslexic. Consequently, I was clinically depressed and have been on medication for the past 2 years. One day, I typed “why can’t I read?” On YouTube ; I clicked on one of the video captioned: “you have difficulty reading? Maybe you are dyslexic.” Then, I started watching the description about reading disability called dyslexia, a word which I heard for the first time . Having learnt a bit more about it, I went straight home crying. I said to my father: Dad, my problem has a name—it’s called dyslexia, and I am not the only one—many famous people have it too! See, I told you, I wasn’t stupid! Everyone at home was shocked—but also relieved! The next day, I kept googling (with my fragmented spelling) looking for support in Ethiopia and found FANA’s website (www.fanaethio.org). My parents didn’t waste anymore time—they right away called FANA and booked an appointment to have me tested for any specific learning difficult. Yeah-it was conformed—I am dyslexic, but otherwise bright, with high cognitive abilities. Hearing this was more than enough to make me want to live—be hopeful. It was obviously overwhelming—way
The training opened our eyes so much so that it pains me that I have been in teaching profession all these years without knowing why some of my students academically behaved the way they did. It’s never too late! Thank you all so much!
The workshop has indeed made a huge difference. We have been trained in such a way that we can even train other people; it has been a great week—Bless you guys!!
I am crying because I am so happy that I found you guys before it is too late for my child. You wouldn’t see him this happy if it wasn’t for you guys.