Our Co-Founder Anaa Jibicho is a refugee from Ethiopia whose family fled to Kenya in hopes of staying alive. Anaa and his family fled to Kenya because of the ongoing persecution of the Oromo people, his people. Living in a poor family and sharing two rooms with twelve bodies wasn’t easy. In Ethiopia, Anaa’s parents couldn’t afford to send him to school, they rarely had enough for food. Anaa said “Most days, my father would leave home with his best impression of optimism but return with empty hands”. Anaa remembers walking through massive amount of trash and waste fields on a daily basis as he and his friends will play in them, which affected his health drastically.
On July 12th, 2007, Anaa’s family immigrated to the land of opportunities, the country everyone spoke highly of, the country that will become their home and save heaven.
When Anaa started school, it was a huge shift in his life. Anaa said “school was very challenging for me; I was having a hard time learning the language and adjusting to the culture. Being the youngest of ten kids, Anaa had his work cut out for him at a young age. None of Anaa’s siblings or immediate family has ever received a college degree. Anaa always dreamed of breaking the cycle and showing that the impossible was possible.
With zero to no guidance, Anaa knew he had to take matters into his own hands, he knew his future was in his hands, so he was determined to someday make his parents proud and not have all the sacrifices that they have made go to waste. Anaa set his goal of achieving something that no one else in his family has been able to achieve, and that was to attend college and earn a college degree.
Anaa’s focus on his academic did not deter him from being engaged in his community. In 2017, Anaa received the Hugh O’Brien Outstanding Community Member of the Year Award. Anaa has served on the Saint Paul Public Schools Student Engagement and Advancement Board from 2017 – 2019, in which he advocated for students and shared his experiences and knowledge with everyone he had the privilege of serving with. Anaa is a community outreach intern for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and served as their Keystone Leadership Group president from 2017 – 2019. In July of 2019, he was selected as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America's Midwest Regional Youth of the Year. Anaa has been vocal in local politics and also national. Anaa was a part of the planning committee for the first ever Saint Paul Youth Mayoral Forum. Anaa has also had the privilege of interning for former United States Senator Al Franken.
Anaa graduated high school in June 2019 and will be attending the prestigious Pomona College in Claremont, California. Anaa graduated high school as a salutatorian and finished with a 4.6 cumulative GPA with over 2 years’ worth of college credits from his time doing PSEO at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Anaa is a Bill Gates scholar, Dell Scholar, and Questbridge Scholar.
With all of his accomplishments, which he so graciously deserves; Anaa never dwells too much on his accomplishments, and sometimes thinks of it as meaningless, because none of it matters if our planet is dying, our developing nations are suffering, and he cannot do anything about. Anaa has set a new goal, a new dream of helping make our planet’s future bright. Anaa said “Our planet is our home, our soul, our energy and we need to make caring for our planet a priority, but we need to start in the developing countries who lack the resources for sustainable life,” because he knows how it feels to be in need of help.
Lamah's StoryOur Co-Founder & President Lamah Bility is an immigrant from Liberia who always dreamed of changing the world and leaving an impact. Growing up in the slums of West Africa, Lamah lived with his grandmother, mother, and his two siblings. As the middle child and the oldest male in the family, Lamah became responsible for being the ‘Man’ of the house at a very young age. Lamah’s father won a visa lottery in 2000 and fulfilled his dream of coming to as he would state “heaven on earth” (United States).
Lamah would wake up every morning on an empty stomach and walk two miles barefoot through trash and waste fields to a water source (river, wells, lakes) just so his two siblings, Mother, and Grandmother had clean water to use in the morning when they wake up. There were always constant riots and militarized police killing innocent people. Numerous members of Lamah’s family died in these riots and he did not believe that he would be alive today.
Lamah would lay in his bed many nights and dream about coming to heaven on earth. He would dream about clean water, clean streets and a constant healthy hot meal. Lamah recalled a time where his mother had to rush to school to get her kids because riots were happening, and the rioters were known to enter schools and hold the kids as hostages to bargain with the government.
In 2008, after eight years of being in America. Lamah’s father was finally able to bring his family to come to see the country that he always talked about and loved. When Lamah and his family arrived in America, his two siblings, his mother, and father all lived in a one-bedroom apartment for about one year before moving to a public housing unit in Saint Paul, Minnesota where he met our Co-Founder Anaa Jibicho.
Being in America had its challenges. Lamah was constantly bullied in school simply because of his accent, the clothing he wore, and the way he smelled. Bullying caused Lamah to lose interest in school, that reflected on his relationship with his teachers and his grades. There would be many days where Lamah will constantly cry at home because he no longer wanted to deal with the pain of being bullied.
Despite everything that Lamah has been through, he always had hope, hopes of a better life, hopes of a better future and hopes of a better world. This hope kept Lamah alive and optimistic.
Lamah never forgot about where he came from and hoped that one day, he would be able to effectively contribute to society. Lamah says “when we think about the 1%, we are always quick to think about rich people, and not realize just by being in America, having clean water, a home, and food, makes you apart of the 1% of the population that is living a sustainable life.”
Lamah is a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls double majoring in Marketing and Communications Studies. Lamah is the Alumni Chair of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and also serve on their Associate Board. Lamah is a former Financial Representative and who now holds his licenses in Life, Health & Accident insurance. Three terms President of UWRF- Black Student Union where he engages all students in meaningful conversations, events, and creating an atmosphere on campus that all students can prosper from. Lamah served as the External Relations Director of University of Wisconsin-River Falls Student Government Association during 2018 – 2019 academic year, where he was focused on understanding and sharing the concerns and priorities of the UWRF student body with important external audiences like the members of the city council, state legislators, and our national representatives in Congress. Lamah is an Al Lenzmeier Scholar.
In April 2019, Lamah received the highest award any student can receive at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the Chancellor's Award. The award recognizes students who have made exceptional contributions to the university and the community. Lamah’s life goal is to give back to the people and the community. Lamah started Didomi to give the world hope of a better future. Lamah says, “My passion is for me, my purpose is for others”.