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  • Daniel Christian, Danish-Eritrean international swimmer
    By Asmait Futsumbrhan

    Growing up around Mombasa beaches, Daniel Christian became a swimmer at a young age. Joining the swimming clubs of Kenya led to competing at the international level of age groups in Denmark. The 21 year old Danish-Eritrean swimmer has won most of the titles of the Danish championships as an age group contestant. Daniel continued to do well after he joined the junior and senior levels as well although he didn’t win a title.

    Now that he came back to Eritrea, where he was born, Daniel brought swimming tools and made time to meet with the Swimming Federation of Eritrea. He also arranged to meet up with Mereb-Setit Swimming Club and shared his knowledge with the Eritrean swimmers. He also had the pleasure of swimming at the Operation Fenkil celebrations with his fellow Eritreans.

    -Thank you for making time to be with us today; would you please introduce yourself to our readers?

    I was born in 1998, in Eritrea. However, due to the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, my family had to move to different African countries -- Gambia, Tanzania and Kenya. When I was just 4 years old, I started swimming along with my two sisters in Mombasa since it was a popular sport there. I joined the Bandari Swimming Club before I moved to Nairobi. My interest in swimming began to grow bigger as I went to the Nairobi International School where swimming was a much bigger sport. After moving to Denmark, learning another language was challenging, but I had swimming to divert my mind.

    -When did you officially start to take part in competitions?

    Every time we moved places, I was presented with a much greater opportunity to be dragged in to swimming much deeper. In Denmark, I started to participate in various national age group swimming competitions, where I became the champion in most of them till I joined the junior team. Nonetheless, I had the chance to take part in a Nordic championship contest and won the title. It was a Scandinavian age group swimming competition which was encouraging. Winning all those age group competitions was rewarding for the hard training I was doing. It meant a lot and inspired me to have a greater vision. I trained seven to eight times a week which sometimes can be challenging. I was in to different kinds of sport such as karate and running but swimming was the only thing that inspired me. I felt like my physique was meant for swimming. I felt like a talented swimmer and that is why I worked hard on it.

    -How were the competitions at the junior and senior levels like?

    It got tougher, certainly. But I managed to be on top five and top three. I can still compete internationally, but I would need to train much harder. I just finished college which made it a bit challenging to focus on swimming. No matter what level you are at, swimming requires constant training.

    -What type of swimming do you compete in?

    There are different disciplines in swimming – butter-fly, back-stroke, breast-stroke and front crawl, and there is another one called IM where you swim all four types back to back. That is what I compete in, but I can also compete in the other types. This means I have to train in each and every discipline equally. It can be challenging and I can’t have the same result as those who train specifically at the field, but I can do well.

    -You came to Eritrea and made contact with the swimmer’ federation; what was your experience like?

    I was born in Eritrea, and I have family here. This isn’t my first time in Eritrea. I came here to see my grandparents and I also wanted to see how the country was doing. I am glad that the sanction over Eritrea was finally lifted and I can see that there is a brighter future for the country. I brought few swimming materials that the swimmers could use. I also told the federation that I am open to share my knowledge and experience as an international level swimmer. I had the chance to meet with the Mereb- Setit swimmers and trained them for five days in Massawa. The swimmers have a potential and great endurance. I saw that the skills of the swimmers can be elevated if they had the professional training and dietary techniques. So, the things I know about techniques and training generally are something I can give to the Eritrean swimmers.

    Eritrea is famous for its long distance runners and cyclists who compete internationally. We can also be known for swimming if we work hard on it and make the sport popular In Eritrea. I came here three weeks after the sanctions were lifted and it just felt like the future was brighter. Although the swimming federation is brand new, we can achieve great results if we open up open-water swimming places and organize races. Eritrea has long coastal lines which are motivating enough to have great swimmers of its own.

    You were amongst the swimmers at the Operation Fenkil celebration; how was it?

    I was just there to teach the swimmers how to elevate themselves as swimmers. It was nice to be part of the national holiday celebration, which means a lot to Eritreans. It was also inspiring to see the kids being inspired by the swimmers. It felt good.

    -Before we say our goodbyes….?

    I plan to come back with more swimming materials of appropriate sizes because the swimming suits I got for the female swimmers this time were much bigger on them. I also felt like I didn’t get enough. Again, I want to take two swimmers to my club in Denmark for two weeks to see and experience more about the professional techniques of swimming. I believe that they can come back and help the other swimmers with their knowledge and experience. They can learn a lot. The things I can teach them just in days are very limited. Also, I would like to open a 50 meter pool anywhere in Eritrea. I think having a professional pool can help in increasing the number of swimmers. And as for myself, in April I am going to South Africa and compete in the South African Championship.

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  • ‘Appointment in Marinai’

    Sunday, 26 August 2018 

    Born and raised in Milan, Italy, Ariam Yemane Tekle knows best how it feels to live as the “other” amongst the rest. Born in the early 1980s Ariam agonized a black daughter of a migrant in Italy, where children of migrants are not, to this day, recognized by the government as citizens until the age of eighteen.

    Leaving their war-torn home in the early 1970s meant, for Eritreans, an expedition that would eventually direct them back to the homeland. They supported the armed struggle and no matter where they’d lodge in they always live united. That is how children of migrant Eritreans in Europe –Milano, Italy, in this case, learned to be indifferent to all the racism and prejudice directed at them by the society in which they grew up in. The key to tolerate ugly stares, police officers buses and total obliviousness of their very presence by the Italian government, was actually spending time together and feel one. ‘Marinai’, a park in Milan, was and still is the ‘spot’ where, by default, multiple generations of migrant Eritreans and their children feel at home in each other’s presence. There, they play sports, chat, talk and discuss national issues without having to feel excluded.

    No need of an appointment in Marinai. A walk or a bus ride to Marinai will most certainly lead an Eritrean to another Eritrean. 

    Ariam Yemane Tekle, expert on social studies, documented it all in her one-hour long documentary entitled ‘Appuntamento Ai Marinai’. Screened at several universities in Italy, one time in New York and lately in media auditoriums of multiple Eritrean organizations, Ariam’s documentary, beyond giving the local public an overview of the hostile reality the Eritrean diaspora live in, it also served as an eye opener tool to Italians who didn’t think ‘it was that bad’ for migrants in their homeland. 

    • -Compliments for documenting a beautiful yet unknown story.

    Thank you. I studied international relations as an undergrad and then I did MA in social studies and anthropology in Brussels. Let’s say that studying social studies and anthropology was vital in terms of my actual interest in people and societies. I agree with you on the fact that the story I tell in the documentary is an unknown one. Eritreans in Eritrea don’t know much about our troubles because we have that culture of ‘tolerating and not telling’. Italians, with whom we grow up don’t think it’s that bad. That is why I decided to name this generation ‘the ghost generation’ as their realty is unknown.

    • -What is it like to be born in a foreign country from migrant parents?

    It is a sensitive issue. Especially for the second generation, meaning children born outside from migrant parents. It is something that can raise several questions. It is unfair for the migrants because ‘black’ or ‘African’ is always connected to robbery, violence and drugs. But when a group of young men playing football are told to be in queue for an inquiry of their sports bag and when they’re told to face the wall with guns pointed at them, that is, essentially, what violence is in its whole meaning! For us, the following generations, I can say, things were better as the worst passed with the second generation but nevertheless it doesn’t mean it has all improved.

    In fact, when I first started working on this project I knew that it would be a sensitive issue, but I was equally very enthusiastic about taping a subject that has never been disclosed publicly. I contacted few people at first but then the network grew as they would give contacts of their friends and the friends of the friends. Some others were rather timid to be in front of a camera but they would share with me their stories and give me tips to my stories. I realized that the young men and women I was talking to were as enthusiastic as me because after all this is their story. This is who they are. They were the black kids in a white community.

    • -Could you please describe your documentary?

    ‘Appuntamento ai Marinai’ is a one-hour documentary about second generation Eritrean in Italy, born and raised in Milan between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s. The documentary talks about their childhood days. They were neglected by the host government while their parents had to go to several jobs in order to make enough to raise their children and with the little left they helped the armed struggle. The children had literally to look after each other no matter where they go. In the story, is mentioned a catholic center that had an important role in the unison of young Eritreans in Milan. To include Eritrean children in the center was a nun’s idea. Her name was Nun Gen Antonia and she would organize several activities to engage the children in the center which included sports and extracurricular educational activities. The nun would call retired teachers to help the kids with their homework and studies.

    • -Do you think we can say that the first black community in Italy was that from Eritrea?

    I do believe there were other African migrants in Italy. But they were never united. They were sparse. The case of Eritreans is always different. The first migrants from Eritrea were running away from bombardments and they always knew that they would eventually come back. At least they had hoped so. In the process families were created and Eritrean children were being raised in an atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate migrants. So it must have been difficult. They thought that it was natural for them to be treated less because that is how the host society wanted them to think. Despite all of this, the Eritrean community has always been our rock. The habit of looking out for each other and looking forward to spending time together are traits we inherited from our parents. Our parents raised us to learn to love each other and fully be aware of our heritage. So we felt Eritreans even though we were not raised in Eritrea. A common trait, for example, is that we all feel like cousins because our parents would introduce us to one another as brothers or sisters. We didn’t know we were actually not related until we grew up, and that we found out on our own realizing that is absurd that everyone in Milan and the rest of Italy is a cousin. The Eritrean community is known for its gatherings and communal life style. This is the specific peculiarity of the Eritrean community in the Diaspora.

    • -What is Marinai?

    It is a park where the second generation would meet after school. But not only the second generation –the trend was followed by all generations until this very day. That is where we all meet without an appointment to hang out and have fun. The youth meet up there from all corners of Milan, even the furthest ones, to hang out with fellow Eritreans… cousins! It has always been a place of consolation. In Marinai you can find young people of all ages. Some who play in groups, some who chat, some who take a walk… but they are all Eritreans feeling at home surrounded by Eritreans.

    • -From the way the diaspora act upon their annual visit home, in summer, it is very hard to tell that you have a mountain of problems starting from racist attacks. Asmara International Airport is crowded with your endless luggage. You give the impression that life is gold out there in Europe or the U.S.A.

    I know it is wrong but that is what we do. In fact, I partially blame us, the diaspora, for the emigration and exodus of many Eritreans. We come here once a year to give the impression that things are all good in Europe, that there are no hardships and that we are rich when most of us have to work multiple jobs a day to support ourselves. I am not saying that Europe or America are bad. Yes, there is better education and maybe more packed foods over there but a migrant will always be a migrant no matter what. And as long as we are black we have to live with the anxiety of racism every day. The reason I, with the help of several people, screened the documentary in several organizations in Asmara is to actually give the true image of what is it like to grow up in a foreign place where you’ll always be the different one, ‘the other’.

    • -Thank you



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  • Eritrean Saron Tesfalul makes Forbes magazine ’30 under 30′ list

    By Forbes
    Forbes released today the seventh annual “30 Under 30” list (p. 90 of the December 12, 2017 issue of Forbes magazine), featuring 600 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders who are challenging the conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation. The Forbes class of 2018 30 Under 30 list, presented by Jaguar, includes 30 honorees for each of the 20 categories. All under 30 years old, the honorees were vetted by a panel of blue-ribbon judges in their respective fields. Over the past seven years, Forbes has grown a 30 Under 30 alumni network of over 4,000 people worldwide. The names within this network exemplify Forbes’ impressive track record of spotlighting young game changers and industry leaders who were on the cusp of achieving still greater fame and fortune. There is one 30 under 30 alumni judge in each category. Nineteen percent of 30 under 30 list members are immigrants, originating from more than 50 different countries. Thirty-eight percent of these list members live and work on the East Coast and thirty-five percent on the West Coast.
    “For the past seven years, the Forbes 30 Under 30 list has emerged as the way that the world discovers the next generation of entrepreneurs and game-changers,” said Randall Lane, Editor of Forbes Magazine and creator of the Forbes Under 30 franchise. “This is the ultimate club: the people that will reinvent every field over the next century."

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  • Only the Beginning…

    Written by Asmait Futsumbrhan

    Monday, 20 August 2018 

    The young Eritrean medical student, Tomas Tsegai Tesfaslassie, possess a great vision and plans for his homeland. He works hard to give back to his nation in any way he possibly can. Raised as an immigrant he came from a family that had to struggle to survive every day, Tomas Tsegai Tesfaslassie was told that it was impossible for him to go to college. Despite what people predicted, tough, he made it UCSF, one of the top Med-Schools in the US. Currently, he is studying at Harvard University.

    Following his dreams of becoming a doctor, Tomas works hard on his studies to become a Trauma Surgeon after his graduation in 2020. What is fascinating about this young Eritrean is, he took a year out of his busy schedule to collect different medical supplies he thought might be lacking at the Eritrean Hospitals. This summer, Tomas mad his way home and brought about 2.5 million dollars worth of medical supplies to the med authorities of Eritrea, and it is only the beginning.

    • -Nice to have you here with us, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?

    Tomas Tsegai Tesfasslasie. I was born in Addis and moved to the States with my parents when I was just eight. I was raised in northern California. I’m in my fourth year medical school at Harvard. However, I took two years off my education time, one year to send medical supplies to Eritrea and one year to get my MPH(master’s in public health) with emphases on health polices and management at Harvard University. I will be graduating in 2019 and continue my education to be a trauma surgeon in 2020.

    • -Trauma Surgeon?

    It is a general surgery but it’s for people who gets shot or stabbed. Trauma surgeons are the ones who go to the Emergency Room and open the patient’s heart and pump their heart with their hands to save them on the operating table. They are the equate care one can get for a surgery.

    • -How did you get in to Med- School?

    My parents didn’t have money after we moved to the States. We were immigrants and my parents didn’t know English well to have a proper job. We grew up poor. My father didn’t have health insurance, one day he almost died due to his uncontrolled hypertension diabetes. That was a big scare in our family. We had to rush him to the hospital and we thought he was going to die. And that is when I started to think about getting into Med. I went to UC Davis for undergrad for neurobiology and physiology behavior measure. There I volunteered at a free clinic taking care of people like my family who didn’t have health insurance. And that gave me a lot of gratitude in my life. That is when I decided that medical school is the right choice. I graduated in 2014 and I went to UCSF for my medical education.

    • -Were you always connected to your home land?

    Yes. This is my third time to be here. My parents influenced me to be passionate about my country. They are the ones who taught me Tigrigna and everything about my homeland. Also, there were many Eritreans in the areas I grew up in California. You are never far away from an Eritrean mom or dad. We are a small community. We get together and go to festivals and various events together which helped spark how cultured and connected I am to my Eritrean blood. Although I have been here before, it is in 2014 that I seriously started to explore my heritage by going to places where my parents are from. At the end of the day, even though I grew up in the States and I am as American as one can be, there is still a big part of me that gets influenced by my Eritrean culture.

    • -You took off a year to send medical supplies to Eritrea. Did you really need that much time?

    I never thought that I was going to need a whole year to do that, but my mentors in my medical school advised me to take a whole year to establish my non- profit organization because nobody has ever done that in my med school. It took us seven to eight month to get our non-profit up and running, to get our web site and social media running and to get approved by the IRS and it took us about four months to get the supplies and shipments. I thought it was going to be, easier but I definitely needed a year since it was much harder than I had expected.

    We have a board of six people who helped me a lot with establishing it. I am the CEO; we have a CFO, Secretary, Community relations.

    • -How was the process like?

    First, we started to talk to the embassy to explain what we wanted to do and what our mission statements were. During the process we were talking to the IRS, which is the longest process to become an official non-profit. December is when we started to contact my medical school and other health care institutions to get supplies. We had an official letter and we got the supplies fairly quickly, especially since I am plugged in the health care system. And we found a shipper and negotiated the price. After a month of being here, I had help from Amanuel from Pharmicore to I figured out who to talk to and get approved by the official authorities a week ago. Now the supplies are with the Ministry of Health.

    • -What are the supplies you brought?

    The supplies are pediatric, podiatry, surgery, OBGYN, radiology, oncology, and labor and delivery materials. We got supplies for about ten departments. We shipped about twenty types of medical supplies worth around 2.5 million dollars.

    The reason I wanted to do this was when I was here in 2014, my uncle had a stroke. We took him to the Halibet Hospital and I saw that they didn’t have the supplies needed to take care of someone who just suffered a stroke. That is when I first thought I should do something about this since I already cared about public health.

    I started my medical school when I went back to the States. So in the third year the students do rotations in hospitals and just like everyone else, I was taking care of people who suffered a stroke like my uncle. We had a protocol and equipment. That is when I noticed that I was throwing away much equipment; once you open up a pack you just throw away the remaining. That is when I started to push my med school to give the remaining supplies to countries that need it.

    • -Do you plan to do more for the future?

    Non-profits are set up to do a rotation of different countries every five years for support. Eritrea is the first country. We have four years more to go, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to stop sending supplies here after that. Our main branch is in the bay area in California. We are trying to open up two more branches in Texas and in Washington so that it’s not just us sending medical supplies but many more people. That is the first mission I am going to work on when I get back, getting more people to send various supplies here.

    My hope is that we can move forward in the coming two to three years. and hopefully we can diminish the supplies which are lacking in the hospitals.

    • -Anything at last

    I heard a quote one day, “impossible is a big word thrown around by little people”. When I was younger, people saw where I was living and saw that my parents didn’t speak English and they had to become janitors and housekeepers. A lot of people told me it was impossible for me to go to college to pursue my dream and become a doctor. Now I am here and I am helping my country. I am going to Harvard and I am going to UCSF, which is a top medical school. So for anyone out there, who has been told by anybody that it is impossible for them to reach their goals, please don’t listen to them. They are just throwing away the word impossible because they themselves have barriers on what they can accomplish themselves. If you put the work in and try to work hard, anyone can accomplish anything. Hopefully one day they can be interviewed by you and they can say the same thing to someone else.

    • -Thank you for your time, Tomas.

    Thank you for having me.

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  • Eritrea bid to poach Mebrahtu as club switch looms | The World Game

    BY DAVE LEWIS  August 20 2018 

    The Sudan-born attacker, who arrived in Brisbane as a refugee at the age of nine, has been granted a release by his Czech club Mlada Boleslav, having notched 19 goals in all competitions over the last two seasons.
    The release comes just days after Eritrean officials flew to the Czech Republic in an attempt to entice Mebrahtu - who spent four years in the once war-turn nation as a youngster - into pledging his allegiance.
    Capped once by the Olyroos, the former Gold Coast, Melbourne Heart and Western Sydney Wanderers striker is uncapped at senior level by Australia.But he was on the radar of Bert van Marwijk when he took charge back in March, without ultimately receiving a call-up.
    Gol-Gol Mebrahtu
    Zdroj: Profimedia
    Gol-Gol Mebrahtu
    The 27-year-old still hankers for a green and gold chance but is not ruling out accepting the Eritrea offer.
    “They sent two people (to Prague) four or five days back to persuade me to play for them,” he said.
    “My priority and my goal is to play for the Socceroos. I grew up in Brisbane, all my friends and my immediate family are there. 
    “It would be a dream to represent the Socceroos but if that doesn’t work out then in the near future I might decide to represent Eritrea. It is enticing.
    “I know the language, I still have relatives there - it’s a strong link for sure.
    “It’s a matter of weighing things up now. But, of course, Australia is my main goal and once my club future is decided, and hopefully I’m playing regularly, I’ll be looking towards (January’s) Asian Cup.
    “If not, then I’d definitely consider Eritrea.”
    The sub-Saharan nation of five million people are currently ranked 206th in the world.
    With Australia hunting a proven goalscorer under new coach Graham Arnold - Mebrahtu added: “My name was thrown around a bit in March (before the friendlies against Norway and Colombia).
    “The FFA made contact saying I would be in a pool of players under consideration.
    “I think they sent some scouts to watch some games, and we’ll see what happens now.”
    Mebrahtu came to Prague hoping it would act as a gateway to bigger things, and it is likely he will be confirmed as a Turkish Super Lig player, or a new 2.Bundesliga arrival within the next week.
    “I came off an injury-plagued time with the Wanderers to play in Europe, where I got to play in the Europa League and score goals in a strong European competition,” he added.
    “It’s now about taking the next step to a higher level and try and achieve there as well.”


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