For her youth group, she was the mother they never had; she was the ray of light for the people she inevitably looked after, and the hope-filled persona for people around her. Yet she became on the death toll of Covid -19.
Zemi Yenus, whose lifelong hearth of helping people in need and her deep passion for injustice and social barrier led her to a transformative and yet unprecedented journey that eventually became her true call, was pronounced dead on May 11, 2021 morning in Millennium center for covid treatment after staying in an intensive care unit for weeks. W/ro Zemi Yenus spent her late years having spent in philanthropist works.
She was born and raised in Addis Abeba. At the age of 17, she moved to Italy, Due to the political unrest that was happening during the Derg regime known as Red terror. As a young and vibrant woman. When she was 19, she started working for a refugee service agency called UCEA, as part of the work she was in charge of immigrants coming to the U.S.A, which helped her to work closely with Ethiopian and Eritreans that were flooding to Italy for immigration. Her passion could not be staggered by any circumstance, when the military government had to blacklist her for the accusation of helping illegals immigrants passing through her work she was forced to migrate to the U.S.A to have a fresh start.
She resided in the U.S.A for 14 years, in carving out her beautician career in Los Angles, L.A. In 1992 she returned to Addis Abeba after the undertone of the government during that time was the little sparks of her philanthropy journey started to catch the slightest flames. She came back to her birth country for a vacation from American where she settled for good.
That was the time that triggered her after observing the unpromising job opportunities for underprivileged youths mainly focusing on the burden carried out by young girls. She felt the responsibility to do something about it. Her acknowledgment of the gap between issues regarding young girls and the solution provided didn’t convince her. which ultimately led her to officially settle back in her birth country. She opened the first beauty and modeling school for underprivileged young girls. Where she continued to involve in mentoring and teaching. During the time of opening the school had graduated 6000 trained girls and giving them real opportunity to break free of unwanted involvement to make a living.
While on the verge of bridging the gaps and helping youths, she stumbled upon another barrier that would change the course of her life and for many mothers like her. The mother of two learned the knowledge of her second son affected by autism. The heartbreaking setback she faced in addressing this issue in both the U.S.A and Ethiopia gave her to find a solution and started her initiative to address and deal with the setbacks she faced.
That led her to the establishment of her best-renowned organization, the Nia Foundation, initiated in May 2002. A local, non-profit, and non-governmental humanitarian organization established for kids dealing with autism. Helping over 200 children living with autism, and the counterpart joy center for autistic kids and related developmental disorder catering with only four kids to start with, she boldly acted collaborating with like-minded people like her. She was the lead activist in creating awareness, mentoring, and directly participating to tackle the barriers of the society’s outlook towards the stigma of autism.
Her dedication towards making the world a better place paid off. “she was a shoulder to cry on and an impressive person.” A mother directly involved in the foundation mentioned.
Although the drive-in to help her society doesn’t seem to have limits, she was caught with Covid -19 pandemic while she was on the verge of yet another unfulfilling dream left behind. The legacy she helped built take shape is the few things she was actively involved in.
Amongst her many achievements, she was acknowledged as the Woman of Excellence in 2014. She was a phenomenal woman who dedicated her life to helping others and alleviating other women she played an immense role acting as a responsible agent in mitigating important issues facing nations.
In the memory of W/ro Zemi Yenus,” Her legacy will continue to live and keep alleviating people in need.” announced her close friends and co-workers at her memorial service at Nia foundation.