Mehari (pseudonym) was born in Edaga Arbi and raised in Arbaete Asmara. He studied his elementary and middle school at Arbaete Asmara and he completed his high school at Ibrahim Sultan Secondary school. Mehari got a high score during the Matriculation Exam and he joined Asmara University to study his bachelor’s degree and eventually he graduated with a distinction from the department of Mathematic. After his graduation, he worked as an assistant instructor at the Mai-Nefhi Institute of science and Technology. He worked there until he was ordered to work as a teacher at the vocational and technical school known as Hamamos, at Sawa military training camp.
Mehari used to participate and exercise the aspects of Arts, especially on short theatres. He even got a great and warm admiration from his fellow colleagues for his dramas and poems he produces while he was at the university.
During his time as a trainer at Sawa military training camp, he got a chance to participate at the national youth festival (where it was held at Sawa military training camp) with his art products. He composed and produced a short Theater. The theatre’s title was, “the daughter of the Emperor”, which had a drama and biography genre. During the production and preparation time and trial shows, the verdict of the theatre was well welcomed by the Centre’s staffs and Art committees. And the high ranking officials of the Art committee chose Mehari’s theatre to be presented on the national youth festival.
But when the time for the opening of the Festival came closer, Mehari found himself engaged in continued arguments with the people he never knew before. The main agenda of the argument was about the idea and message of the theatre, as they accused him it explicitly had political message. So they ordered him to cut some scenes or else they would abandon the theatre. But Mehari refused to do what they asked him to do. And as the result of his refusal he found himself in prison. With the help of some staff members he was released from the detention after three days. This incident was awakening call to Mehari to think flee the country, as he came to learn that it may no longer be safe to live in his home country. And he decide to leave the country illegally and he describes his life threatening journey as follows.
I had to discuss my plan to flee the country with my two friends who worked as teachers and they assured me that they would go with me. Then we decided to find another person who had a knowledge of the geography of the places and willing to guide us in our journey. We were fortunate to find a person who was staff member and who had detailed knowledge of the geography of the area. After setting the date for our departure, we started our journey to Sudan. But due to the bad weather and anxiety we lost our direction and we entered straight into the farms of locals. While they ordered us to stop we started to run away from them with fear. Here all of us but the guide, run in the same direction. After we realized that we had escaped far to safety from the local farmers, we found out that our guide is missing. After assessing the situation and discussing among ourselves what to do, we decided that we had no options but just to move forward and follow the route that leads to the Sudanese border. Here we faced huge challenged as we had already consumed the food and water we had at our disposal. And this has led to our starvation and extreme exposure to thirsty.
Fortunately we found an old man and begged him to let us have his food, he was so touched and kind, and he let us to eat his food. After we had our meal we got our energy back and continued our journey. But when we travel very short distance we got a man armed with a Kalashnikov and he ordered us to stop or he would shoot us. We had no chance but to run and we did run. The man with a Kalashnikov started to shoot towards the sky but we did not hesitate to run and we managed to escape. While we run five armed soldiers followed us. And we did not take notice that they were followed us. But when we realized that they were following us hid inside a very small cave. We heard them talk and we spent long hours inside the cave. Inside the cave we suffered from dehydration and we were forced to drink our urines as we had no chance of getting water.
After a very long, worrying and struggling time, we came out of the cave as we assumed that there were no any soldiers there. And as we expected it, there were no soldiers. After a very long travel on foot we encounter military police members who spoke Arabic and we realized we had reached the Sudanese border. The military police took us to a police station [in the area] and the police transported us to the Shagarab Refugee camp.
From Shagarab, Mehari traveled to Khartoum and he narrates the events as follows:
After I arrived at the Shagarab refugee camp in Sudan, I immediately traveled to Khartoum, and started to work in order to survive the difficulties. I also continued to write poems and short novels. I also contributed articles as freelancer to a Newspaper authored by an Eritrean Journalist. After one year stay in Sudan, I got a Scholarship award from one University in Scotland. I was very glad that I had a chance to pursue my dream. But the bad luck which used to happen to me, follows me there, as I was chased and charged by the Sudanese Security. I was so shocked and surprised, because I have no idea why I was charged and jailed. When I asked what the reason was for my arrest, they just told me to wait. I spent a whole month inside the prison, and after all these days they told me that I was charged on the basis of request of the Eritrean Embassy to be detained and that I would be deported to Eritrea. I was so shocked and felt low.
Later I got an information from inside the Eritrean Embassy that they accused me for contributing to the newspaper which is considered by Eritrean government as the opponent of the Eritrean government for they allege that the newspaper publishes negative things about the Eritrean government. As everyone knows the Sudanese police officers are corrupted and my friends paid a bribes and got me released. Based on these circumstances I lost my scholarship award. I even thought that I had no chance to survive in Sudan. So I decide to move to Ethiopia. Then I travelled to Ethiopia through the border, via Humera town and I arrived at the refugee camps in Ethiopia.
There I got a chance of free scholarship to study at Addis Ababa University and I have my MSc in Information Science. I even graduated with a great distinction and my research paper got an award. Due to my high score and my research the department of Mathematics in Addis Ababa University offered me PhD (doctorate) scholarship but that offer was dismissed by the registration office as they refuse to give such award to refugees. I was very confused and started to raise a question for myself, “why these all things are happening to me” and I realized that if I can survive such difficulties and obstacles, I can face others too.
Even though Mehari faced difficulties and challenges whenever he goes, he used to get scholarship awards, but he still feels aggravated by the continuous problems he faced. He even lost his dad, mom and his sibling while he was facing such difficulties. But he has high moral and he is married to a woman who he got to know while he was a student at Addis Ababa University and he has a baby boy.
Mehari finally concludes by saying “For all the dark times, the difficulties I faced and the horror experiences I suffer, God is giving me a hope with a lovely son, Amen. Nowadays I only think about the next future and thinking “what will be the life of the next Eritrean generation “