Reunited after five years, Eritrean family looks toward the future
One evening, while talking to his caseworker, Anday exclaimed, "I never thought I would make it to America. Never, not once when I was crossing the Sahara, crossing the Mediterranean, or living in Malta, did I think I would be living in America." They had just picked up his wife and young daughter at the airport, and were on their way back to his new apartment which he had rented and furnished for his family. His daughter was born a few months after Anday left Eritrea five years previous, and she appeared overwhelmed and exhausted from the plane trip from Sudan. When their casewoker, Courtney Madsen, visited the family again a few days later, the entire family appeared excited and relieved to be together after a five year wait filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
While most Eritreans are subsistence farmers, for educated people like Anday, the government requires an 18-month civil service commitment; in reality, this commitment is indefinite. Political descent can lead to arrest, and the ability to disseminate information is restricted, as the government controls the only media outlets. Only 3 in 100 people have access to telephones, so getting information out of Eritrea is nearly impossible. Anday is acutely aware of this fact, and during his time in Malta he worked for a non-governmental organization which advocated for Eritrean refugees. Part of his work included collecting stories from the new arrivals to Malta in order to gather as much information as possible. He also traveled throughout Europe trying to raise awareness. But because Malta does not have a path for refugees to become citizens, Anday chose to apply for resettlement.
Anday speaks English, Arabic, and Amharic, in addition to his native Tigrinya. Upon arriving in the United States in 2009, he began preparing to become a certified interpreter through the State of Washington, and now works as a medical interpreter. Additionally, he found a job working nights at a Seattle gas station. In the midst of all of this, he found time to apply for acceptance into the University of Washington's Master of Social Work program, and will begin his studies there in the fall quarter. Anday's goal remains the same-- he wants to continue to advocate for Eritrean people, and to educate people in the United States about the circumstances of his homeland. For the time being, Anday is concentrating on getting his daughter registered for kindergarten and getting started on furthering his own education.
Return to the IRC in Seattle