October 29, 2018
It is normal to see Eritrean parents who have never seen their children for the last 25 years!!!
All the names are not real for the sake of privacy
Ordeals borne by all family members
Tes with his wife and three children, though a brief moment, were leaving with his family until the Eritrean Security forces wanted to arrest him for reasons of abandoning national service (servitude) and feeding his family. He was conscripted in the mid of 1995 and served until 2014, where he deserted and started to work here and there to bring food to his table. Once he realized that they would not let him lead his life peacefully, he embarked to change the course of his life forever. He has never thought of starting a new life abroad. All his programs and plans were in Eritrea. But he was convinced that Eritrea is not meant for him. He was fed-up of hide and seek life style whereby absconds his unit and the military searches for him or rounds him up. He made his mind; fortunately, he absconded and arrived in Sudan safely. Though he was happy that he made it safely to Sudan, he was unable to settle in Sudan, because he had left his wife literally with nothing to sustain herself and the three children. “In Sudan it’s not easy to get employed. “I was working as a Racksha driver [three wheeled motor cycle] and sometimes as a daily laborer. But the money that I was getting was not even enough for my subsistence” he reflects.
“It was not easy for me to watch my wife and children looking for help from some relatives. Moreover, Sudan was not safe for me to stay. Eritrean security forces used to roam the streets of Khartoum to hijack Eritreans and return them to Eritrea and incarcerate for indefinite time.. So I had to cross the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea for my safety and security and for the sake of my family. I knew it was a desperate journey. But I did not have any option. Go Europe or die trying it!!” he elaborated why he decided to take such a risk.
“The grim experience is that for the last four years, I did not even see my wife and my children.” Laments Tes. Tes, who is currently in Norway waiting for family reunion added that his wife and the two children were able to cross the border to Sudan legally but his oldest son,8, had to take the most dangerous route – through the boarder to Sudan which is infamous for human traffickers. Unfortunately he was caught by the Sudanese armed forces and was detained for more than ten months before joining his mother and his two siblings. Currently his wife and his children are waiting for decision on their visa applications to travel to unite with him. The separation of the family has huge psychological impact on all the members of the family. The Children have grown without the love of their father for tender part of their life. Tes has been denied the enjoyment of the love of his children and his wife. The wife has not only to bear the separation with her husband but also to bear responsibility for taking care and protection of the children.
Unwanted but a must sacrifices
Medina is married to a well to do man. Once their daughter reached four years, she started to get worried for her daughter for she is going to be five years i.e. the age where any Eritrean is not allowed to leave the country. “I have been sleepless since my daughter’s fourth year birthday. Literary I started to count the remaining number of days left for my daughter to be five years old because she is going to be ‘ineligible’ to leave the country once she is five. So we are here in Uganda” said while she was stroking her daughter’s head.
“We are doing all these sacrifices and expenses for her. She is our reason to live. I do not want her to pass through the ordeals I have passed. At least my husband and I have to make sure that she will not set foot on the endless national service. Though she has to finish her school before going to the national service, which will happen after 12 years, and it might seem that it’s too early to get worried, but experience is a good teacher. It’s been the same for the last 24 years. So my husband and I have made our mind that I go abroad with our daughter and stay for at least one year and come back to Eritrea once I got residence in neighboring countries.” reasoned out her actions.
Medina will go back to Eritrea once she has stayed for a year in Uganda and secured the residence permit with her daughter. Many Eritrean families have similar experiences. Most of the time, men are not allowed to leave the country and the burden is all on women. Women take all the responsibilities of their children. Integrating the children to the new environment, looking for best school, health facilities, rearing the kids and so on.