Voices: Eritrean Refugees in Cache Valley, Utah: Berhane Debesai Abraha
Berhane Debesai Abraha
Berhane Debesai Abraha was born May 20, 1980 in the capital city of Eritrea, Asmara. He earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Asmara in 2003. He is one of sixteen children.
Berhane didn't come as a refugee to the United States, but is very involved with the refugee community in Cache Valley. Because he speaks fluent English, he is an invaluable resource to the Eritrea community and holds English classes every week. He works at JBS as a food safety supervisor.
Berhane applied for a diversity visa and had to go to Sudan in order to fly to Kenya where he was able to contact the American embassy and secure his way to Los Angeles. After several months with no success in finding a job, he settled in Logan.
And in JBS when I become a supervisor, forget me. But the whole Africans, they were proud of themselves because, "Hey, this guy is from Africa." Some of them they don’t know me, they don’t know where I am, they just know I am from Africa. They were so happy for a month, they just say, "Congratulations, you make us proud." Because people think, "Ah, Africa is cursed country, these people they don’t- they are worth nothing." And sometimes they think we are worse than the black Africans here, because they are Americans just they are black, but we are Africans, still from the entire continent.
Dreams for the Future
Though Berhane enjoys what he does, he is looking forward to moving to Salt Lake City to begin his Master's degree work in chemical engineering at the University of Utah. He hopes to work for a major engineering company and to one day get married and start a family.