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Tedros Adhanom caught in $20 million teen prize scandal

By Abebe Gellaw

The Foreign Minister of Ethiopia has been caught in an explosive web of lies with a schoolgirl as the Government of Australia and the Rotary Foundation have denied giving 20 million Australian dollars to a 14-year old teenager, whom the nation’s “top diplomat” publicly praised and endorsed as an “exemplary philanthropist” and claimed her to be the winner of an unnamed “international prize”.

The Ethiopian-Australian girl, Beritu Jaleta Ahmed, claimed last week in a joint press conference with Dr. Tedros Adhanom in his own office that she was ready to build a school in Ethiopia with the 20 million Australian dollars that she won in a student competition held at her school in Melbourne. According to her, the prize money was jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Rotary Club of Australia [sic].

But Baden Powell College’s leadership, who knew nothing about the the competition or the prize, have already referred the matter to Victoria Police for investigation, Addis Voice has learnt. The public school that takes students from prep to 9th grade is dominated by students from immigrant families. It has around 1800 students, 180 staff and 50 volunteers. It gets an annual budget of around 12 million Australian dollars from the coffers of the Victoria Department of Education.

Tedros Adhanom publicly praised the teenager as a unique “role model” among the Ethiopian Diaspora for allocating such a large amount of money for development at such a young age. He commended her philanthropy and pledged that the government of Ethiopia would provide all the necessary support for the completion of the “modern school” project from nursery to secondary school levels that she planned build in Gara Muleta, Eastern Harargie, the birthplace of her father.

The Government of Australia and the Rotary Foundation have distanced themselves from the scheme and told Addis Voice that they have never heard of such a grand prize or the teenage winner of a multi-million dollars school competition. Some members of the Ethiopian community in Melbourne have blamed the girl’s father and the government in getting involved in such a shameful scam that can adversely affect the image of the country.

Jenna Hand, a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, refuted the teenager’s claim that the Government of Australia gave her half of the prize money. In a written statement emailed to this reporter, the spokesperson said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has not given 10 million Australian dollars to fund a school in Gara Muleta, Ethiopia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade supports education in Ethiopia by providing core funding to the Global Partnership for Education. Ethiopia is a recipient of Global Partnership for Education funding,” the official Australian Government statement said.

The Foreign Minister had also maximized the PR “opportunity” by spreading and spinning the news, along with pictures of himself, the girl and her father, Jaleta Ahmed, on Facebook and Twitter. “Beritu Jaleta has done an extraordinary deed that we should all learn from,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Under Australian law any person under the age of eighteen is considered a child.

“I came here to Ethiopia to build a school in Gara Muleta, Harargie. I won a competition of 20 million Australian dollars. So I came here with the Embassy of the government of Ethiopia in Australia to begin my project and the construction and also see the area and the land,” she told journalists, who were not allowed to raise any serious questions during the press the stage managed conference held in the office of the Minister.

Tewolde Mulugeta, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added a spin to the propaganda claiming that she received the award last year for her extraordinary academic performance and proposal to build a school. “She used to participate in various school clubs. One of the clubs was the one she headed in areas of human affairs. While she was working in that club, they were exchanging views regarding the support of people for others,” Tewolde said unconvincingly. “The main thing was that she proposed an idea to create opportunities for others to get education. We have learned that people who have heard the idea arranged the prize for her. This happened nearly one year ago, around 2014,” he claimed nervously without providing any proofs and verification.

Bruce Allen, Manager of Rotary International in Australia, pointed out that 1300 Rotary Clubs raised only $A 5.6 million dollars for its own humanitarian projects and activities last year let alone giving “an outrageous amount of money” to a 14-year old school girl. “It is totally out of question. There was no application or grant to this person,” he said.

“She is saying that half the money came from the Rotary Club and half of it from the Government Australia. There is no way that any Rotary Club in Australia could afford to pay that amount of money. We just don’t have the money. She got 20 million Australian dollars and I find it highly unlikely. That is an outrageous amount of money,” Mr. Allen noted. He also said that there is nothing called “Rotary Club of Australia” as the girl said because there are 1300 Rotary clubs in the country.

“We only have money for a whole rage of humanitarian programs. But we will never ever get involved to this extent. It is a lot of money and there is no Rotary Club in Australia that could afford to do that.There is a key point here. She is saying that half the money came from the Rotary Club and half the money is coming from the Australian government. There is no way any Rotary Club in Australia could afford to pay that amount of money,” he said.

So many puzzled Ethiopians took to social media to vent their anger and express their doubts on how the person in charge of Ethiopia’s foreign relations is unaware of unlikely global developments as well as the legal implications of corrupting the morals and psychology of a child by involving her in such an orchestrated web of lies and deceptions never heard of in the history of schools anywhere in the world without making any effort to verify such claims.

by 37 percent in a bid to reduce the cost of the national expenditure. From $A 225 million the previous year, the Government of Australia cut its aid to Africa to just 133 million AUD.What makes the story even more ludicrous and bizarre is the fact that during the 2013/14 budget year Australia cut its foreign aid to Sub-Saharan Africa

During the same budget year, Rotary Foundation gave grants totalling $14.2 million to support 265 projects worldwide in the areas of disease prevention and treatment that he foundation dispersed  totalling only $6.5 for education and literacy to support 66 projects around the world,  according to its annual report.

Meanwhile, the Baden Powell College administration declined to give any official statement. But a school source, who spoke on condition anonymity, told Addis Voice that the school officials are very upset and disappointed to be dragged into this kind of scandalous scam.

“Because the issue involves a minor and is also under investigation by the police, we are not authorized to make any public comments,” the source said. The motto of the school is “Looking Forward, and Staying Ahead.” It is not now clear if Mr. Jaleta Ahmed and his daughter are looking forward to returning to Australia to face the music or would rather stay in Ethiopia despite being caught in dangerous web of lies and scandals.
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Tedros Adhanom caught in $20 million teen prize scandal Reviewed by Admin on 7:20 PM Rating: 5


  1. Again, not one mention of Eritrea, Eritreans or even how this has any effect on Eritrea. Why are we, Eritreans so concerned with corruption in Ethiopia when it does nothing to further our development and social order. Why does Ethiopian news rank along side with Eritrean news on an Eritrean website. I understand a need for coverage about neighboring nations, but when Ethiopian articles number the same amount as Eritrean articles, there's a problem.

    Are you telling me that there is no news that would further our understanding of Eritrea, or that there is nothing in the news pertaining to Eritrea. Come on guys. lets let them mess up their country all they want and refocus on ours.

  2. So am I wrong in stating that " The founding principles of Shaebia is ENVY towards Ethiopia and Ethiopians, nothing more nothing less" ?

  3. In today's world you can't lie nor cheat for a month, specially when you're a public personality, with all the social media we have at disposition you get un-masked easily. Weyane are famous as some maphia organization to make cheatings like buying the degree they never accomplish, or other titles believing that their IQ would increase only because they have title. We are used to this deception already.

  4. Let us come to a real sense of understanding. I read the three comments above and come up to my own conclusion. To comment on Cane, the world goes with lies to condemn or else to praise. This happens when y like or hate. We are in a material world so lies are everywhere if it suits once interest whether to get money, authority or else any scandal which fits ones interest. The second commentator said why should we talk about Ethiopia. Sometimes it is necessary because by lying they have expelled our people and let them be looted by those who are materially interested i.e 'ferahi egzeher zeyebelom' .
    How many people died? How many families departed or else separated? How many died because of the concequences of war, poverty, disapponitment so forth and so on ..Envy! Ha ha who envys who? I always want my friend Shabo to learn and grow i.e to be objective, sensible, justifiable,truthful etc. Here we have to think that there is GOD above us who reads our heart so let us work for our grass root people to make them out of ignorance. Let us think big and go further to Africa so we become like the other developed countries. If these happened we work hard together, we love and respect each other, we exchange what we and take what we don't etc

  5. You know why I so disgusted by Shaebia is that what ever it mention the name Ethiopia and its people is about negative developments, darkness, poverty, and so on. Even there are miraculous developments in Ethiopia you can not find a single appreciation from Shabos. I do not care much about Woyane but when it comes with my nation and my people I am forcefully concerned. As for common values, as a region you mentioned, I said it many times I am along with your ideas. But please stop this negative crap about my country, if you can not appreciate do not talk about it.
    Please tell this MADOTE thing

  6. Abebe please get a life. It has nothing to do with his exlency Dr. Theodros Adhanom. If any 1 come to Ethiopia to invest, the government will provoke enormous support that's all. People like u Mr. Abebe who too income support and housing bendit from Lambth brough tall too much.please do not pretend. As if u care about Ethiopia. U r American and be my guest care about them. We r Ethiopians and we care about our country.

  7. Just curious. What was the FM trying to prove? If they have the potential to lie over a stupid case like this, can you imagine how far they will stretch on big issues like Bademe or Assab?

  8. Thank you 4 ur enlightenment.
    Woyane is not and will not be democratic in the context of classical meaning of democracy.
    But Woyane is very developmental, which is the best out fit for diverse societies like ours.
    Thanks Jallee Tola again

  9. Confusion is the word of the are the one bleeding our ears about woyane being democratic and Ethiopia holding "elections" and Ethiopia dependent from boot liking the west for aid and in the process sell fertile land to foreigners just to get "developmental loans" from WB.

    So you are enlightened by the above comment? all the above comment show is a biased veiw of one desgruntled person who tried to be seen neutral.....but he tried to destort historical facts such as "the ethiopians from Assab" 70,000 Eritreans were evicted and left behind millions of dollars wealth whcwhich was squandered by weyane...Eritrea was colonised for over 60 years and your "heroes" didn't think about Ethiopian land lockedness...short sightdness? whatever the reason..tola conviniently left that out that part..any way Eritreans can not be shaled with rubbish like that but the enemy of Eritrea get excited and call the garbage "enlightenment" good luck.

  10. Tola tultula!

    You have trie I give that much but man! What do take Eritreans for? or at a minimum the people that frequent this website?..I refrain from counter arguing the detorted facts and stories are right about few things though that the Eritrean business is for butt out! and the fact that 99.9 Eritreans voted for independence..that is true today as it was yesterday!

    Just one more fact it is not foreign powers that denied you of access to the see, infact they gave it you on a plate...tultula!

  11. Again Shabo y appreciated the above comment. I have copied and pasted it just to show y that y r not objective. If y think how painful for y when y feel other talks bad to yr country also they feel the same like y. So what I want to tell y is don't comment because y like it or not what is the fact on the ground and give honest response. Everytime there is comment comeup with real sense and respond objectively. . I am not interested talking the same old story that we are always poor. How could we come out of this poverty? That should be answered and this should be our consern for both of us. How do we fight poverty? If we work together that could be easy. If we always talk about port port that is nonsense for me. This morning I heard an interesting drama in FB performed by two Eritreans children. One of them asked to the other one why were Ethiopians and Eritreans fought? The child responded because they are inlove. He was surprised by the answer and said how could love makes them fight. The other response Ethiopians were interested in port while the fighters were interested in their country and the people. This was what the problem was. I remember what the late Meles answered 'let their camle drink Assab water. I alwas remember the Amharic proverb 'mekega wedajune nekelo telatune yetekal'. I just brought this for y to understand. I heard a very good saying here being patriot is good than being nationalistik. The Eritrean Abraham Deboche, Zerai Deres and Mogus Asgedom are always remembered in history. There is in 'yegegenoche Amba' in Shashemene. The late Meles didn't think of this when he expelled these people. It was corrected after a while. This could be enlightment for the long Amharic comment above. It is no of use to counter attack but to think what would be good for all of us.

    Thank you 4 ur enlightenment.
    Woyane is not and will not be democratic in the context of classical meaning of democracy.
    But Woyane is very developmental, which is the best out fit for diverse societies like ours.
    Thanks Jallee Tola again

  12. I appreciate Madote for bringing such comment because it is exactly a counter attack.

    ቀድሞ “ከኤርትራ ውጭ ነጻነት ላሳር!” ብለው የነበሩ ሃይሎች አሁን ላይ ሆነው “ተሳስተናል!” እያሉን ነው።
    ለዚያውም በምሬትና በጥላቻ። ታዲያ ችግሩ የት ነው ያለው? ከተቃዋሚዎቹ ወይንስ ከሻዕቢያ? መልስ የሚሻው የብዙዎች
    ጥያቄ ነው።

    Let people comment genuinely. My personal comment is our President has explained that Eritrea had fought for independence after the 1950 where many Africans were independent. Eritrea was denied independent. That was where the fight started when all the factories were shifted to Ethiopia and the Eritreans properties were sold to other countrieres. I wish if the writer was genuine. He quoted the joke by the name called 'Gebeyawe'. The writer is indeed an Eritrean or else raised in Eritrea.

  13. Eritreans are now engaged on defaming Ethiopia in every silly issues,But it is inevitable that the camel will keep going.


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