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ENGL 4750/6750, Summer 2015: Voices: Eritrean Refugees in Cache Valley, Utah: Seltene Gebreselasie Gebretinsa

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Seltene Gebreselasie Gebretinsa

Vertical Portrait of Seltene


Seltene Gabreselasie Gebertinsa celebrates his birthday on January 1. He was born in 1975 in south Eritrea, in east Africa, in a small village named Segeneiti, which is about 70 kilometers south of the capital city Asmara. He has one sister and five brothers. One brother was killed in the War of Liberation from Ethiopia in 1994. Seltene has a wife and two children. He was told that his wife and children would come to the US between six to eight months after his arival. He has been here for over two years and his wife and children are still not here.

Maps of Eritrean Refugee Migration


Conscripted in the army at age 18, Seltene worked for eleven years without pay. He could not support his family, so he left Eritrea in search of money to support his family.

He crossed Eritrea's boader into Sudan. From Sudan, Seltene crossed the deserts of Libya. Upon reaching the Mediterranean Sea, Seltene crossed the sea to the island of Malta. From Malta, with the help of the Refugee Commission, Seltene boarded an airplane to New York. After arriving in the United States, Seltene traveled to Las Vegas. From Las Vegas, Seltene moved to Logan, Utah to work for JBS meat packing company.

 Refugee Perspective

He likes Utah – it’s a good place to live; I didn’t see any bad things here, so it’s a nice place to live here.


Life in America is so expensive, rent is expensive; you cannot live if you don’t have work. And even though you are not going to live with anybody, everybody wants money. Back home, life is not expensive; so, for example, if you don’t have any apartment to live, you can live with families, you can live with other people for some time; you can share with everybody. But here you have to work hard and pay a lot of money for life.

Seltene Gebreselasie Gebretinsa talks about life in Utah.


...but my children, they are so small so I cannot take them out safely, so I don’t want to expose them in danger because they are too young.

Seltene Gebreselasie Gebretinsa talks about his family still in Eritrea.



Dreams for the Future

He wants to learn English, work hard, go to school, and improve his life. He wants to get his wife and children to the US. He wants his children to go to school and get a good education.