The Ghebrai Family
Almaz Tesfay playing the bass guitar
My mother, Almaz Tesfay, was born in the small town of Dekemhare, located in central Eritrea. As a young child, she had always been a wonderful student with an insatiable appetite for education. However, once my mother was evacuated due to the Ethiopian invasion and sent to The Revolution School in northern Eritrea, this thirst for learning was left unquenched.
During her 13 year training at the military camps, my mother was selected from her group to be placed in the music department. Through these specialized classes, my mother learned how to play the base guitar, dance, and sing. When she was not serving the country, my mother often performed in numerous concerts and shows for troops in order to boost their morale, and lift their spirits. I admire my mother’s heroism, passion, and selflessness. Not only did she fight to free her country from Ethiopian rule, but she also found an outlet for expression that was able to satisfy her intellectual curiosities in a different way. She is an extraordinary woman.
Fitsum Ghebrai as a combat cameraman
Fitsum Ghebrai, my father, was born in the village of Godife, located on the outskirts of Asmara. My father had always had a deep love for art. As a child, he would often spend his days playing soccer, painting, or drawing. Unfortunately, once the war began, my father had to abandon his childhood in order to liberate his country.
Over the course of his training, my father learned how to shoot, subdue enemies, and identify geographical targets. For every meal, my father, along with the rest of the students, was given soaked lentils, with dry, crusty bread. Students did not have bunks, so instead, they slept on the floors. In both hot and cold weather, students only had a linen bed sheet, half of which was set on the ground like a mattress, and the other half which was used as a cover. Despite these horrendous conditions, my father was able to pursue his artistic talents through the art of video and camera. My father spent the rest of his time at war serving as a combat cameraman. He, along with his other comrades, documented the entire war from 1981 to 1991. My father’s inspiring documentaries, evocative photos, and profound interviews were then sent to Eritrea’s department of Information and later archived. On numerous occasions, my father risked his life so that his country could witness the war without engaging in the fight. I deeply respect my father’s bravery and sincere love for his country.
My younger sister Michal is 16 years old. She was born in Dallas, Texas and loves to hang out with her friends, read, and write. Her favorite books include Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, and Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light. Michal is currently a junior at Shorewood High School.
My other younger sister, Melen, is 11 years old. She was born in Seattle, Washington and hopes to become a professional chef and artist. Melen loves to paint, draw, take pictures with her new camera, play her violin, and cook meals for our family. Melen is a 6th grader at Echo Lake Elementary in Shoreline.