2019-20 Midwest Youth of the Year
Originally from Ethiopia, Anaa and his family came to the United States when he was small child. Initially, he had difficulty learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture. He also often got into trouble. One day, a police officer stopped him and his friends and gave them a one-day pass to the Boys & Girls Club. That pass changed Anaa’s life.
The Club helped guide Anaa during this developing period of his life and to overcome adversities. Club staff members regularly reminded him he could do anything he put his mind to, which Anaa soon came to know for himself through the Club’s character and leadership development programs.
Anaa’s hope is for all youth to have positive role models like the mentors who helped him reach his full potential. That’s why he’s working on a framework for a mentorship program he calls “Bridge,” which will teach youth how to stand out from a crowd rather than force themselves into a puzzle they don’t fit.
Anaa is a freshman at Pomona College with plans to become an entrepreneur. In fact, he already co- founded Didomi, a company that sells reusable stainless-steel water bottles and donates a portion of its profits to organizations that work to eliminate plastic waste or alleviate the world water crisis.