Voices: Eritrean Refugees in Cache Valley, Utah: Kahsay Berhe Gebremedhin
Kahsay Berhe Gebremedhin
Kahsay Berhe Gebremedhin was born in 1971 in the lowlands of Eritrea, on the border with Ethiopia. He is one of eight children, one of whom also lives in Logan.
He crossed the border into Ethiopia in 2007, where he lived and worked for six years in a refugee camp and started a family. In 2013, he was relocated by the US Refugee Program to Maryland, though after eight months he chose to move his family to Logan UT, where he now works at JBS and takes English lessons.
After walking across the border with his brother, Kahsay was captured and taken to the Shimelba refugee camp in Ethiopia. There he applied for a refugee visa with the United States and was granted refuge in Maryland. He had his first real encounter with Western culture in the Frankfurt airport where he struggled with his family to get to their connecting flight. He stayed in Maryland for eight months but came to Logan for the opportunity to live somewhere rural.
So some people they don’t want to leave the camp, some people they don’t know how to work in the farm. So you cannot live with the 15 kilos of wheat; if you are lucky, if you have families in the U.S. or England, they ask for money or for help. But there were a lot of people struggling in that camp.
As far as I figured America in my brain it was just a big metropolitan area... I was worried, "What am I going to do in this country? How I'm going to live?
Sometimes it’s kind of hard to go to the shop and buy a meat because you don’t know who killed the sheep. We are kind of strict in our religion orthodox: you have to kill it yourself, you have to say, 'By the name of God, Son, and the Holy Spirit;' and we feel comfortable.
I don’t feel isolated from the community because they help us with anything we ask of them, even sometimes when we come first I just have the address in my hand but I cannot look at my apartment – I ask them, "Hey, do you know where this address is?" Some of them they just show me, but there are some good people that just took me until I reached the address I am looking for. So these people are loving people and they are good people.
Dreams for the Future
Kahsay dreams of raising his children here so that they might have the opportunity to gain educations and fulfill their own dreams. As for Kahsay, he dreams of returning to his roots and one day own his very own farm.