Axumite Heritage Foundation

What We Do

The Axumite Heritage Foundation (AHF) was established by the ECDC In 1993 with the aim of restoring, preserving, and promoting Axum's ancient and modern cultural achievements.

The AHF has been running three main projects:

  • The Inda Nebr’Id Rehabilitation Project
  • The establishment of the Axumite Public Library
  • The establishment of the Institute of Axumite Studies (IAS) and Museum

Inda Nebri’Id Rehabilitation Project

The current state of the Inda Nebi’Id is that it has a well-tended garden and compound.

The ‘Inda Nebri’id was the home of the former governor of Axum under the old imperial regime. Built in 1910, the ‘Inda Nebri’id was designed based on contemporary Italian architecture and was the first building in Ethiopia to have indoor plumbing. After the military coup that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the building was alternatively used by the Marxist Derg regime as a prison and the army barracks. When the Derg was overthrown in 1992, the building had fallen into shambles. The interior was crumbling and rotting, and the outside grounds were used as a squatter camp. The Axumite Heritage Foundation agreed with the city of Axum to take stewardship of the ‘Inda Nebri’id and transform it into a place for public development. When the AHF finished renovating the ‘Inda Nebri’id, a building that had symbolized for many the terror of the Derg regime, it was once again restored as a place of community pride.

After the construction of the new library, library services were relocated to the new building. (see below). The Axumite Heritage Foundation plans to turn the ‘Inda Nebri’d into a museum and welcome center. The museum will be focused on the ethnography of Axum and the Tigray region. It will fill a neglected role by preserving local creativity traditions and exhibiting contemporary material culture and artisan works.

The compound will house artisan shops showcasing and selling ancient artisan work to tourists. These craft shops will specialize in offering unique, handmade items that showcase the traditional craftsmanship and cultural heritage of the region or community.

The construction of a public cafeteria that will serve the public and tourists has also been completed.

The building was dilapidated and in a state of disrepair. The Inda Nebri’Id was built by Dejazmatch Gebre Selassie Baria Gabr (governor of Adwa, Tigray)

 

The compound was used for squatters during the Marxist regime.

 

The 1st Phase of rehabilitation was completed, and the building opened its doors to temporarily house the Axum Public Library until the modern Library was constructed on its premises.

 

The current state of the Inda Nebri’Id. (Nov 2023)

This once-neglected compound has bloomed into a vibrant sanctuary from neglect to nature’s embrace. Luscious gardens invite the public to find respite in their serene surroundings, offering a relaxing escape to visitors and students. A testament to transformation, it’s now a captivating park celebrating the beauty of care and creativity and deemed a role model for the city.

The Axumite Public Library

The Axumite Heritage Foundation Library

The Axumite Public Library, another project spearheaded by AHF, opened its doors in 2002.

The Axumite Heritage Foundation Library was the first library in the city to be open and give free service to the public. The library serves scholars, students, researchers, community members, and general readers. The Public Library had been providing service to students long before the establishment of Axum University in the city.

With its more than 20,000 publications collection, the library offers resources many in the community cannot find elsewhere. Our medical, science, and math textbooks supplement the education of local college and high school students. The library is a vital resource for the people of Axum and residents of the greater Tigray region.

Built as a residence and not intended for public use, the ‘Inda Nebri’id, which initially housed the library, could no longer serve the growing number of patrons. The new library addresses this growing need. Designed by renowned Ethiopian architect Fassil Giorghis, the new library is a three-story structure with large reading rooms, stack spaces, an auditorium, an exhibition hall, and a small cafeteria. The building edifice embodies a modern interpretation of vernacular Axumite architecture, featuring stone masonry construction, lime surface treatment, and a specific composition of volumes unique to the historical city.

The Public Library is equipped with modern facilities for e-learning.

The large reading room has opened its doors to the students and lecturers of nearby universities and colleges.

 

An impressive Ethiopian collection section poised to serve scholars and historians.

 

Students have the benefit of using the internet and computer facilities for e-learning. A meeting hall and a children’s section are also in the building, surrounded by a well-maintained campus, suitable for readings and small group discussions.

High school students study at the library, attempting to catch up on lost time due to the three-year hiatus, where the education process was suspended, schools were vandalized, and teachers went unpaid.
The Dimbaza Schools Project

The Dimbaza Schools Project

ECDC supported the improvement and expansion of the Meseret Teferra Primary and Secondary schools, all public facilities dedicated to educating and advancing opportunities for the local community in Ethiopia. The primary school was constructed and equipped with support from ECDC in the mid-1990s and turned over to the government.

Transforming Communities through Education.

A classroom from the previous elementary school in the village of Dimbaza.

 

The secondary school was a more recent construction project that started in 2018. This project had been paused due to the war in Ethiopia. Following the peace agreement, ECDC has not only resumed the construction work, but re-habilitation and restoration work is underway on school desks that were vandalized by the occupying forces.

Dimbaza Elementary School is operational again after the war, and construction work of the secondary school has also resumed.

 

The Institute of Axumite Studies (IAS)

The Institute of Axumite Studies (IAS)

AHF plans to create The Institute of Axumite Studies (IAS), which will nurture upcoming local scholars interested in learning about Axum and its historical significance. Visiting scholars with ongoing research in Axum will be invited to share their findings and interact with the community through public education programming. Besides its Special Collection of materials and documents on Axum, the IAS will also house an interdisciplinary academic program in history, archaeology, religion, and museum studies. Through this, the IAS will encourage the interest of young local students and guide their attention to future areas of study. Ultimately, the IAS aims to inspire individual and community stewardship of this ancient city’s past legacy and its dynamic future.

SPECIAL COLLECTION

The Axumite Heritage Foundation actively seeks donations of manuscripts, documents, and rare publications to expand its collection. The Special Collection has already acquired several private contributions from notable scholars of Ethiopian history, including the late Dejazmach Dr. Zewde Gabre-Sellassie and Professor Gebru Tareke. The late Professor Merid Wolde Aregay was instrumental in consulting on early acquisitions and laying the foundation for our special collection.  Please get in touch with Ezana Teferra at eteferra@ecdcus.org for more information.

 

ECDC's Humanitarian Assistance

ECDC's Humanitarian Assistance

Education and Wellness Center in Tenedba Refugee Camp (Sudan)

In addition to education and advocacy actions domestically, throughout the years, we have also carried out various humanitarian projects in the Horn of Africa. For example, most recently, we co-sponsored the establishment of an Education and Wellness Center, together with the Health Professions Network for Tigray, in Tenedba Refugee Camp in eastern Sudan where approximately 22,000 refugees who fled the Tigray war live. This newly constructed facility now offers mental health services, computer literacy classes, sports, and other wellness activities, among other services for individuals in the camp.

Wellness Center Sudan young girls soccer team with coach
Refugee youths at the wellness Center are engaged in sports and computer literacy and provide various wellness services.

Fundraising activities

  • The “Help Axum Hospitals Save Lives” campaign:
    • St. Mary Hospital in Axum, a prominent and historic institution in northern Ethiopia, faced severe challenges during the siege and subsequent war. Serving 1.5 million people, the hospital had been unable to pay its 430 staff for the past two years due to the financial services closure the entire region of Tigray faced. Previously providing food for in-patients, the hospital, due to a lack of funds, had to suspend admissions, leading to severe malnutrition cases and a spike in the death rate from 0.5% to 21.6%.
    • Axum University Comprehensive and Referral Hospital, inaugurated in 2015, also suspended in-patient services during this period.
  • Both hospitals urgently needed medicine, essential supplies, and financial support to save lives in the region.  In response to a call made to the Axumite Heritage Foundation and ECDC, a campaign titled “Help Axum Hospitals Save Lives” was rolled out. ECDC raised $30,517 through a campaign in 2021. The funds were transferred to these hospitals to save lives. Through a generous contribution from our friends and supporters, ECDC partially met their demand.

ECDC believes in addressing the root causes of the refugee crises, especially in the Horn of Africa. Humanitarian assistance, building resilient communities in war-affected areas, and giving hope and support to those who remain behind.

  • Other humanitarian assistance: ECDC engaged in humanitarian endeavors during the war in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. It assisted those displaced by the conflict. Thousands of refugees are still sheltered in refugee camps in Sudan. Moreover, after the five-year-long siege was lifted, ECDC has continuously responded to calls for financial assistance from various regional sectors.

ECDC has designed the REVIVE Initiative to focus and streamline its contribution to the restoration effort. Read about the REVIVE Initiative

Our overseas projects aim to improve the well-being and opportunities of communities negatively affected by natural disasters, humanitarian crises, or conflicts so that those who remain have hope for a better future.

ECDC’s REVIVE Initiative

ECDC’s “REVIVE Initiative,” is an ambitious program designed to support restoration efforts and catalyze resilience and positive change in the Tigray Region of Northern Ethiopia in the aftermath of the two-year-long devastating war. With a legacy spanning 40 years, ECDC has been at the forefront of supporting refugees and immigrants in rebuilding their lives here in the United States..

ECDC is proud to announce the launch of the REVIVE Initiative. This initiative has been established to raise critical funds to address the pressing challenges afflicting the education sector in the war-torn Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia and provide support to women, children, and vulnerable communities through raising funds for various projects as well as to support the health sector that has been left in shambles.

These funds and material support will contribute to the efforts to address the gaping economic needs across all population sectors and will speed up action and lead to improved conditions in the region’s comprehensive recovery and economic revival.

Among the most affected sectors are education and health, both of which have suffered extensive damage, leaving millions of young minds deprived of their rightful access to a quality education and communities grappling with a lack of health care and economic setbacks. Women and children have borne the brunt of the atrocities.

REVIVE’s mission is twofold: to raise funds for rebuilding shattered classrooms, directly or indirectly provide essential educational materials, help restore the livelihood and dignity of women and war victims, and contribute to Tigray’s overall recovery and economic revitalization through various collaborative ways.

Through this Initiative, we aim to restore hope and opportunity for Tigray’s children, ensuring they are granted access to a quality education and the chance to realize their full potential while also contributing to the region’s broader recovery and development by supporting women, the elderly, and vulnerable communities through raising funds to support these efforts.

Simultaneously, we are committed to fostering economic recovery, supporting small businesses, focusing on women and vulnerable communities, and enhancing community development initiatives. By doing so, we aim to contribute not only to individual educational success and restoring the livelihood and dignity of women and vulnerable communities but also to promote an economic resurgence of the region, paving the way for a brighter future for all.

The REVIVE Initiative is a collaborative effort to rebuild and restore hope in Tigray. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of Tigray’s children, women, the elderly, and vulnerable communities and contribute to the region’s broader recovery and development.

Join Us

JOIN US!

Join us in our mission to help rebuild shattered classrooms, restock essential educational materials, support the resilient young minds of Tigray, the vulnerable women, and the thousands of war victims, and support the region’s overall recovery and economic revitalization.

Together, we can make a lasting impact and help restore hope and opportunity for Tigray’s children, ensuring they have access to quality education and the chance to realize their full potential while contributing to the region’s broader recovery and development.

Please give a helping hand to a region grappling with a multitude of challenges.

Donate Now!

To learn more about ECDC’s REVIVE Initiative, contact:

Alemayehu G. Abera, (Ph.D.), the Overseas Program Coordinator:

Email: aabera@ecdcus.org

ECDC: https://www.ecdcus.org/

(Learn more: Postwar recovery of the Tigray education system: challenges and support needed – Tigray Education Bureau)

ECDC’s REVIVE Initiative Program

Restoring & Expanding Education

ECDC has a long-standing track record of investing in education in Ethiopia via the distribution of books to public libraries throughout the country in collaboration with regional educational offices.

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Versatile Computer Learning

In recognition of the evolving demands of the modern world, the REVIVE Initiative places a strong emphasis on advancing e-learning and computer literacy. Through strategic partnerships and tailored programs, we aim to equip the youth with essential digital skills, ensuring they are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

 

Learn more

Inclusive well-being for vulnerable communities:

Inclusive well-being for vulnerable communities: Understanding the unique vulnerabilities faced by children and women in post-conflict regions, the REVIVE Initiative is designed to prioritize their well-being.

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 Essential Health Restoration:

ECDC has a rich history of supporting hospitals and health institutions in the region, especially during the war.

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