Luther student Kiflu Tesfaye receives Hawkinson scholarship in support of Ethiopian irrigation project

July 15, 2010

Luther College senior Kiflu Arega Tesfaye has received a $2,000 scholarship from the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice. Hawkinson Scholarships are awarded each fall to undergraduate or graduate students who have completed a specific peace and justice project.

Tesfaye plans to use the funds to continue his project titled "Collaborating on Irrigation to Fight Hunger." Supported by a Davis Projects for Peace grant of $10,000 and a Rukavina Family foundation grant of $9,000, his project developed an irrigation system on small farms in rural Ethiopia, established a farmers cooperative and built a barn for the cooperative so that they do not depend on seasonal rainfall alone.

Tesfaye, a senior who studied in Ghana for five years before coming to Luther, is majoring in management at Luther. A native of Ethiopia, Tesfaye was awarded the Davis Projects for Peace grant in 2009 for the irrigation project in Datu Wereda, Ethiopia, a community 167 miles from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

The majority of the population in Datu Wereda, approximately 90 percent, is made up of mixed agriculturalists whose lives depend heavily on seasonal rainfall. Tesfaye's project brought together approximately 20 Datu Wereda farmers to form an irrigation system from the nearby Tikur-Wuha River.

Tesfaye has organized a second project in another area of Datu Wereda where at least 50 farmers have already agreed to unite. His expanded project also plans to establish a micro-insurance program in order to create a means of reimbursing the cooperative if planted crops fail and a micro-financing program to raise investment money to implement similar projects in other areas.

Tesfaye will be presented with his Hawkinson Scholarship at the annual award ceremony on Friday, Nov. 19 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Vincent L. Hawkinson was pastor of Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for more than 30 years. Hawkinson believed it was the duty of religious leaders to stand up and speak out against injustices and violence in the world. The Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation for Peace and Justice was established in 1988 to keep his dream alive by recognizing those who have made contributions to the causes of peace and justice.

The Hawkinson Foundation annually awards students who are a resident of or currently attending school in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota or Wisconsin who have demonstrated a deep commitment to peace and justice in order to publicize the activities of these individuals and encourage and inspire actions in others.

Since 1988, the Hawkinson Foundation has awarded more than $120,000 to 96 students. Each fall there is an award presentation in which recipients are recognized.

For more information about the Hawkinson Foundation, visit


Sign at Ebenezer Farmers Cooperative
Kiflu Tesfaye (left)