From Tuesday to Wednesday, Beijing hosted the two-day forum, attended by more than 10,000 delegates from 151 countries and 41 international organizations, which the organizers described as showing the “appeal and global influence of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

H.E. Roman Tesfaye, Former First Lady of Ethiopia and CEO of the Hailemariam & Roman Foundation (HRF) attended the opening ceremony of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) at the Great Hall of the People.

H.E. Roman moderated and shared her previous experience on the “Silk Road NGO Cooperation Network Forum,” which focused on expanding new space for development and building the high-end platform for people-to-people connectivity. The forum was among the six themed forums that were respectively convened.

In realizing the objective of people-to-people connectivity, H.E Roman Tesfaye presented the experience of the Smiling Children school meal program which has been implemented since 2014 by the then Ye Enat Weg and now the HRF is so instrumental. The program is the support extended by the people of China which is channeled through the then NGO China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) and now the China Foundation for Rural Development (CFRD)  and it was a start point to undertake the overseas programs.

Her Excellency reiterated that the well-established connectivity should continue and expand well in the future so that all the belt and road initiatives prosper.

As part of the efforts to promote friendship between Ethiopians and Chinese peoples, Her Excellency explained that Ethiopian students were taken to China as part of this effort, and that cultural and scholastic exchanges were encouraged between Ethiopian and Chinese students.

Her Excellency concluded by stating that, “the Belt and Road Initiative represents a historic opportunity for enhancing people-to-people connections, and that all actors should work towards improving people-to-people connections and cultural exchanges.”

The forum served as a platform for NGOs to collaborate, enabling the Cooperation Network to provide practical experience, and allowing NGOs to focus on both economic development and cultural exchange.

Hailemariam & Roman Foundation

October 2023, Addis Ababa