In 2000, Mehereta told her story...
I had so many new things to learn when I first arrived in Israel Ė running water and electricity
were a complete novelty to me. I was nine when my family decided to leave our village in northern Ethiopia out of a
desire to be in our homeland. After leaving my mother behind to care for my grandparents, we began our long walk through
the Sudan. We didnít know how tough the journey would be to get there.
As a child I remember being told by my grandmother that Jerusalem was like Gan Eden (the Garden
of Eden) . Israel was always the place of our dreams. When we finally arrived it really felt like the paradise I was
promised. But I missed my mother and prayed every day to be with her. It took six years before we were reunited and I
was able to get on with my life.
I tried the Ďmelting-potí approach to absorption but it didnít feel right for me. My own culture
and heritage became more important to me and I started to believe in my own identity. I wanted a university education
but I didnít have the right qualifications because my parents didnít think studying was necessary. I found a
pre-university course designed to get young Ethiopians into university and through this was accepted for a psychology
degree. Of course a Bachelor's degree isnít enough to get anywhere in Israel so now Iím studying for a Masters in
I want to use my skills to help people. Many of the agencies that deal with the Ethiopian
community do not have the understanding required to help us. Iíd like to be involved in bridging that gap. I perform
with an Ethiopian theatre group and we would like to use this medium to communicate with young Ethiopians. Theatre is
new to our culture, so we are teaching them how to use it. We also want to express our concerns to Israelis Ė they can
learn a lot from us too.
I am engaged to be married next spring. My fiancť Eran comes from an Ashkenazi family,
which makes for an interesting combination. People used to stare at us, but either we have got used to it, or they have,
because we donít notice it anymore. Iím looking forward to the next generation because our children will have the best
of both backgrounds.Ē
Source - http://www.ujia.org/