Ghebreselasie, or Kentiba to friends, beams when he talks of freedom: freedom to get on a bus and not be stopped. To be with his family. He doesn’t take things for granted. Kentiba grew up in Keren, Eritrea. A happy childhood in a loving family: school, friends, soccer, helping with the family business. But then his mother, fearing her children’s conscription into the army of a dictator, fled to Sudan and requested asylum. She was resettled in the US in 2013. Kentiba’s siblings joined her in 2016.
For Kentiba it was too late to avoid the army. But the oppression of the experience drove him to attempt escape. He was caught, jailed for 2 years in a terrible place without enough food or beds, then released back into the army. His second attempt at escape was successful. He spent two years in a camp in Ethiopia, then lived in Addis Ababa while going through the vetting process to join his family. He arrived in RI in February of this year just as COVID disrupted all services for refugees. He started our training program in August.
Kentiba loves being able to work, especially in a team environment where everyone helps each other. He loves equipment (like our new, complex, finicky sealing machine!), computers and driving. He has hopes of working toward his GED over time and becoming a truck driver. He certainly is an inspiration.