Thursday, June 28, 2012

‘Yes, Chef,’ a Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson -

‘Yes, Chef,’ a Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson


The universal rule of kitchen work, Marcus Samuelsson says in his crisp new memoir, “Yes, Chef,” goes as follows: “Stay invisible unless you’re going to shine.” That rule applies to writers too, especially to those who would write food memoirs. Because you like to put things in your mouth does not mean you have a story to tell.
Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times


A Memoir
By Marcus Samuelsson
Illustrated. 319 pp. Random House. $27.

Kwaku Alston
Marcus Samuelsson
Mr. Samuelsson, as it happens, possesses one of the great culinary stories of our time. It begins in Ethiopia, where he was born into poverty and where, at 2, he contracted tuberculosis, as did his mother and sister. The three of them trudged more than 75 miles in the terrible heat to a hospital in the capital city, Addis Ababa, where his mother died.
Mr. Samuelsson — at birth he was named Kassahun Tsegie — and his sister didn’t know their father. Orphaned, they found themselves on an airplane a year later, adopted by a white, middle-class family in Goteborg, Sweden.
You may know some of the later bits of Mr. Samuelsson’s story. In 1995, while cooking for the Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit in Manhattan, he became the youngest chef to receive athree-star rating from The New York Times. Eight years later the James Beard Foundation named him the best chef in New York City. In 2009 he cooked for President Obama’s first state dinner.
He’s now the owner and executive chef of Red Rooster Harlem, where he interprets Southern and other comfort food standards. His fame extends, as it tends to these days in the food world, to reality TV. He was the winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” in 2010, where he was cool as a daikon radish under fire, blending Swedish and African influences into dishes like hamachi meatballs with berbere, an Ethiopian spice mix. He’s still only 42.
“Yes, Chef,” which was written with Veronica Chambers, chalks in the details of Mr. Samuelsson’s story with modesty and tact. What lifts this book beyond being merely the plainly told story of an interesting life is Mr. Samuelsson’s filigreed yet often pointed observations about why so few black chefs have risen to the top of the culinary world.
“A hundred years ago,” he says, “black men and women had to fight to get out of the kitchen. These days, we have to fight to get in.”
Mr. Samuelsson and his sister had what he calls a mostly “quaint” upbringing in Goteborg, a blue-collar town he likens to “Pittsburgh by the sea.” He hiked, skied and fished, and he learned to cook from his Swedish grandmother, a retired domestic.
He’s funny about how she could “kill a chicken old-school style.” He describes her method this way: “Grab the bird, knife to the neck. Like, ‘Come here, boom.’ ” He’s amusing too about how, once in a while, he’d hear about “a family’s smokehouse blowing up like a meth lab.”
He had a happy childhood. “I have no big race wounds,” he admits. Still, a bully at school pounded him with a basketball, asking him why he wasn’t good at “negerboll.” (“Neger was the Swedish word for Negro,” he writes.)
As it happens, there was a type of cookie called negerboll too, and one popular brand’s advertisements featured a little Sambo character. “I felt a sense of dread anytime I saw a boy open a package of them at lunch,” Mr. Samuelsson writes, “because I knew that the wrapper would soon be coming my way.”
Mr. Samuelsson was not much of a student; he didn’t attend college. He was an excellent soccer player, however, and hoped to play professionally. Told he was too small, he turned to his next great passion: food. He studied cooking at a vocational high school and then began arduously climbing the ladder, cooking on cruise ships and in increasingly good restaurants in Sweden and Switzerland. In 1991, when he was 21, he arrived in New York City to take a low-level job at Aquavit.
“Yes, Chef” is a good book to give to the aspiring professional cook in your life because its abiding theme is the brutal and selfless work that must undergird culinary inspiration. As a low-ranking member in a good kitchen, he says, “you have to completely give yourself up.”
He adds: “Your time, your ego, your relationships, your social life, they are all sacrificed. It’s a daily dose of humility.”
Mr. Samuelsson does not drink much, and he does not consume drugs. Yet he was not entirely a drudge. There is a mischievous twinkle in his eye throughout this memoir. There are mentions of interludes with “Swedish au pairs” and “backpacking Yankee girls” and a chambermaid named Brigitta, who became pregnant.
Brigitta gave birth to a daughter, Zoe, whom the author supported financially but did not help raise. They’ve gotten to know each other only in recent years. In 2008 Mr. Samuelsson married Maya Haile, an Ethiopian model.
Over the course of “Yes, Chef,” Mr. Samuelsson, who was more or less classically trained, comes to realize that other ethnic foods, especially Asian, have “as much integrity and power as any French food I’d ever eaten.”
He memorably asks: “Who lied? Who started the lie that France had the greatest food in the world?” He travels to Ethiopia to connect with his culinary roots, and he meets his father, whom he’d long presumed was dead.
There’s a strong undercurrent of loneliness in “Yes, Chef.” In part this is because, he says, blacks are “shamefully underrepresented at the high end of the business.” When bad things happen, like the time the voluble and unhinged British chef Gordon Ramsay used a racial insult to describe him, he felt he had few people to turn to for support. That loneliness is a part of Mr. Samuelsson’s reserve. We get close, but not too close, to him in this memoir. There’s always a bit of distance.
There’s a kind of alienation, finally, that can come from being an atypical black person. Like Barack Obama, whom he thanks in his acknowledgments, Mr. Samuelsson hasn’t had anything like what could be called a standard black American experience and has sometimes suffered for that reality. He’s too white for some, too black for others.
He’s been accused of being an outsider and a gentrifier in Harlem, where he now lives and runs Red Rooster. “Who in Harlem pays $28 for chicken?” a Harlem native was quoted as saying in a stinging review of “Yes, Chef” in The New York Observer.
That’s fair enough, even though what the restaurant calls its “fried yard bird” is $26. (And unholy in it delights.) This kind of criticism has validity, and I’ve been known to weep about the price of Manhattan barbecue. But it forgets that a great restaurant culture, in Harlem or anyplace else, needs a mix of high and low, of aspirational and inexpensive, to come alive.
For the monkish Mr. Samuelsson, a good kitchen has always been, he says, “my laboratory, my studio, my church.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tanzanian Driver suffocate to death inside his vehicle 43 Ethiopian migrants & dumped their bodies and abandoned the survivors rs

DAR ES SALAAM — Police in Tanzania are hunting a truck driver who let 43 Ethiopian migrants suffocate to death inside his vehicle, before dumping the bodies and abandoning survivors, officials said Wednesday.
"A man hunt is going on for the driver of the lorry that abandoned the Ethiopian immigrants by the roadside," said Luppy Kung'alo, a Tanzanian police spokesman.
Eighty-two other people were inside the truck in central Dodoma province on Tuesday, around 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, police said, as they updated an earlier death toll of 42.
Survivors told police that while they were locked inside the truck they had screamed to the driver to stop after several people passed out due to the lack of air, said local police chief Zelothe Stephen.
When the driver finally stopped, he ordered the migrants dump the corpses and clean the truck, but then roared off leaving the Ethiopians behind in a remote area.
"After they cleaned up, he got in and drove off leaving both the bodies and the survivors," Kung'alo said.
"People from nearby villages saw the bodies lying next to the road, and later they saw people crossing into the wilderness trying to head into a nearby village," Stephen said.
The migrants are believed to have left their native Ethiopia several months ago and were heading south towards Malawi, officials said.
"Preliminary reports have it that the immigrants were destined to Malawi," Deputy Interior Minister Pereira Silima said Wednesday.
Their likely route took them through Arusha in northern Tanzania towards the southern town of Mbeya and eventually across the border to Malawi, he said.
The bodies, a number of which were already decomposing, were taken to a government hospital. Survivors have received medical treatment and are being looked after by the police.
Last week, the bodies of 47 Ethiopians were recovered from Lake Malawi, which forms much of the border with Tanzania, after their overcrowded boat capsized.
In December, 20 Somali immigrants were found dead in Tanzania.
The foreign ministry said at the time that an increasing number of Ethiopians and Somalis were crossing the country to make their way to South Africa, the continent's top economy.
Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled the lawless Horn of Africa country since the collapse of a formal government two decades ago, while crippling drought racked both Somalia and Ethiopia last year.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Out of Ethiopia: Is international adoption an ethical business?-BBC News -

Out of Ethiopia: Is international adoption an ethical business?


Related Stories

International adoption is big business in Ethiopia and the country accounts for almost one in five international adoptions in the US, but how ethical is the process? BBC Africa's Hewete Haileselassie reports in this article which appeared in the latest issue of our Focus on Africa magazine.
Twenty-five years after leaving Ethiopia, Matthews Teshome decided to come home from the United States. This time for good.
He had left much behind in April 2007 - most notably a successful career in IT. But his reason was simple. "There is work to be done," he said at the time.
Soon after returning to the capital, Addis Ababa, he befriended a young boy he saw running errands and shining shoes around his hotel.

Start Quote

As I was in the country to help out, if I couldn't help this boy then I wasn't doing much”
Matthews Teshome
Zeberga, who was then 13, used the little money he made to clothe and feed himself, pay his uncle rent, put himself through night school and send money back to his mother in rural Ethiopia.
"As I was in the country to help out, if I couldn't help this boy then I wasn't doing much," says Mr Matthews, who was determined that Zeberga should return to school full-time.
After promising to continue the monthly $3 (£2) remittance, he received permission from Zeberga's uncle and his mother to support Zeberga.
Within months the young boy had moved in with Mr Matthews, who employed a lawyer to facilitate the adoption process not only of Zeberga but also of his younger sister who was working as a maid in the capital.
Drawn to Ethiopia
Meanwhile, 8,000 miles (13,000 km) away, in the US, Bridget Shaughnessy gave birth to her daughter Elia. It was also April 2007.
Mrs Shaughnessy (centre) and Teshale at Addis Ababa's airport Photo: Lynsey Epp PetersonIt took the Shaughnessy family three years to take Teshale to the United States.
In the final weeks of her pregnancy, Mrs Shaughnessy was diagnosed with a rare birth complication which meant that the baby had to be delivered early. Elia arrived safely but her birth was both traumatic and risky for Mrs Shaughnessy.
As she and her husband Luke watched Elia grow up in Denver, Colorado, they decided that adoption was the only way to complete their family.
They both felt drawn to Ethiopia, its culture and history, and so made contact with an agency specialising in international adoptions.
That was the beginning of a three-year process that ended in their bringing their son Teshale home from Ethiopia.
Back in Addis Ababa, Mr Matthews says the biggest obstacle he initially faced in the adoption process was being a single man with no biological children of his own.
But once the authorities were convinced of his motives and character, the process proved less difficult than he had anticipated.
While it is common in Ethiopia for families to incorporate children of relatives into their own households, formal and legal adoptions remain the preserve of foreigners.
Mr Matthews' family does not fully accept his children and most "make no reference to them" at all.
Parents vetted

Out of Ethiopia

  • An estimated five million orphans in Ethiopia
  • One out of five children adopted in the US are from Ethiopia*
  • Since 1999, 11,524 Ethiopian children have been adopted by American families*
  • Families in Spain, France and Italy also adopt several hundred Ethiopian children per year
* Source: US Department of State
Official Ethiopian data is hard to come by but Dagnachew Tesfaye, a lawyer who has handled many adoptions for the country's children and youth affairs office, estimates that there are around 5,000 international adoptions a year from Ethiopia.
Almost 19% of all children adopted from abroad and taken to the US come from Ethiopia, according to the US department of State - the most famous case being actress Angelina Jolie and her daughter Zahara.
It costs up to $25,000 to adopt a child to take abroad. In contrast, Mr Matthews says he paid roughly $300 for his own in-country adoption.
Mr Dagnachew, who has also presided as judge in many high profile international adoptions, says that while the fees are high - leading to accusations of impropriety in some cases - the government is in no way profiting.
US actor Angelina Jolie, holds daughter Zahara (2006)Angelina Jolie is probably the most famous person to adopt from Ethiopia
He adds that the amounts paid to the courts in processing fees, for example, were "laughably small", with the difference being taken by the agencies who handled the foreign adoptions.
Mr Dagnachew explains that the Ethiopian government sees international adoption as one of the measures used to tackle the country's large number of orphans - said to be five million, from a population of 85 million.
The United Nations defines an orphan as a child having one or more dead parents.
The Ethiopian ministry of women's affairs is also putting in place various checks to ensure that the adoptive families are thoroughly vetted. This can include visits to children in their new homes abroad.
'Amazing moment'
Mrs Shaughnessy, who blogs at, says that she was drawn to Ethiopia because of its "open" and "ethical" adoption process.
She also points out that children maintain access to information about their birth families.

Nigerians keep it in the family

By Chikodili Emelumado
Growing up in the heart of Igboland in Nigeria's Anambra state, adoption was not something one spoke about openly.
Igbo people wishing to marry and start a family must meet certain standards of "purity". There should be no thieves or snitches in the family and no history of mental illness.
Both parties must be free, born not from a lineage of slaves or servants of deities and neither family should have ever begotten changelings, witches or poisoners.
It is no wonder then that many Igbo people are still put off by the idea of a "tainted" gene pool resulting from adoption.
The parents of Chidiebere, an ex-schoolmate currently studying in the US, adopted a boy four years ago in Nigeria after having daughters.
However, her father had to seek the approval of the council of village elders and kinsmen after her grandfather refused permission.
They had several meetings and in the end, they voted on it. Finally they agreed that the days were gone when adoption was taboo.
"They told my dad they had to change the constitution to fit adopted children that will come into the village in the future," she says.
In fact, soon after she contacted the adoption agency in Minnesota that would link her to a government orphanage in Ethiopia, she had a home visit from a government representative.
She describes the moment when she took the telephone call that informed her she had been allocated a child as "surreal - very exciting. A really amazing moment."
The Shaughnessys travelled to Ethiopia in November to meet Teshale and to start the process of taking him to the US.
Mrs Shaughnessy says that by the time they met him in an orphanage in Addis Ababa - where he had been for almost a year since being placed there by his birth mother - "we had already fallen in love with him, but he didn't know who we were."
As for Teshale, who was not yet two at the time, Mrs Shaughnessy says he was scared and overwhelmed.
"He knew something was happening but not what," she says. She spoke of tears each time he left the orphanage to spend time with them.
Once in the US, she kept her son's Ethiopian name as part of honouring what his birth mother had given him.
She added that she keeps in close touch with other adoptive families who also have Ethiopian children.
Controversial practice
But this still remains a highly controversial practice. One high-profile former adoptee is a United Kingdom-based poet and playwright, Lemn Sissay.

Start Quote

Lemn Sissay
Taking a child from another culture is an act of aggression”
Lemn SissayPoet and playwright
He entered the British care system in the 1960s having been given up for adoption by his mother who gave birth in England before returning to Ethiopia.
He says that non-Africans should be closely "monitored" when seeking to adopt African children and that while many good adopting parents exist, "having an African baby is often a sign to non-African adopters of their philanthropic, political, familial or religious credentials."
Ultimately, he says, "taking a child from another culture is an act of aggression".
Selamawit (not her real name), an independent consultant who works with women's affairs organisations in Addis Ababa, shares Mr Lemn's concerns about screening adoptive families but says that "adoption in principle is not a bad thing" although it is best for children to remain with their birth families or, failing that, the extended family.
She argues that in Ethiopia adoption has become far too lucrative a business where children's interests seem secondary.
She also says there is a pressing need to monitor internal adoptions, formal or otherwise, as children can be subjected to child labour when sent to live with family members.
These cases tend to fall outside monitoring mechanisms.
Selamawit suggests that the money should be reinvested into the orphanages to help those children left behind.
Five years on from being adopted, Zeberga is legally an adult and his sister is 16.
Their father, Mr Matthews, runs a successful restaurant in Addis Ababa and says that some of his colleagues who were the most wary of his plans to adopt later became the most supportive.
"We've really all become one big family," he says.
Mrs Shaughnessy echoes these sentiments saying of her son Teshale: "We are beyond in love with him. I don't even know how to make sense of it, it's amazing what happened."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ethiopians fleeing from Dictator Melese Zenawie in Boat 60 capsizes in Malawi

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — An overloaded boat carrying about 60 illegal immigrants from Ethiopia capsized in Lake Malawi's wintry waters, and all aboard are feared drowned, Malawi police said Thursday.
Police spokeswoman Dave Chingwalu said 47 bodies have been recovered and that three suspected Malawian human traffickers had been arrested. The accident happened in the northern Karonga district, 600 kilometers (400 miles) north of Lilongwe, the capital, on Monday night.
Villagers started seeing floating bodies Tuesday morning.
"They pulled out two bodies, then three, then five," Chingwalu said. "They decided to alert the police on Wednesday and we have so far pulled out 47 people from the lake."
 The boat capsized because it was overloaded," he said. "There were men, women and children and goods as well. We believe more bodies are still in the waters."
Immigrants from troubled countries further north often cross the borders between Malawi and Tanzania, and between Malawi and Mozambique, trying to reach South Africa, home to Africa's strongest economy.
Chingwalu said immigrants cross by boat to avoid police road blocks.
Caroline van Buren, the chief U.N. refugee official in Malawi, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the latest fatalities are the highest recorded in recent times.
" Incidents of Ethiopians and Somalis showing up in villages in northern Malawi are not new," she said. "Sometimes — after being tipped police are in pursuit after being helped to cross the lake — the migrants , usually tired, hungry and sick, are dumped on the Malawi side to negotiate their way across Malawi to the Mozambican border, where a fresh set of smugglers help them to cross into Mozambique."
She said corrupt police officers across the region are paid by smugglers to help or look the other way.
Chingwalu, the Malawi police spokesman, said that after arresting the three Malawian suspects, Malawi police are working with their Tanzanian counterparts to track down Tanzanian human traffickers who may have been involved.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ethiopian protest at the University of University of Saskatchewan-Leader Post

The University of Saskatchewan should not be hosting an Ethiopian politician implicated in corruption scandals and the forcible removal of tens of thousands of peasant farmers from their homes, human rights groups say.
A group of 30 protesters from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta stood outside the U of S Administration building Tuesday at noon with placards and flags demanding the removal of Shiferaw Shigute.
"Saskatchewan university, send him back!" chanted the group. "Saskatchewan university, shame on you!"
Tom Wishart, the U of S special adviser on international initiatives, said he was not familiar with the allegations against Shigute, as the delegation arrived just a few days ago. He said the university takes such concerns seriously and the matter is being researched.
Shigute, a minister in the Meles Zenawi national government and chief of Ethiopia's Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR), arrived in Saskatoon Sunday and has been in private meetings with U of S officials. He is part of a delegation discussing a longtime education and agriculture partnership between the two regions.
Protesters and human rights groups say the partnership has produced many benefits for Ethiopian people, but Shigute's involvement will raise many questions.
"The university is keeping him hidden," said Taye Maulugeta of Regina. "We have a right to see him. This guy should not be here."
Fellow protester Ali Saeed drove overnight from Winnipeg to participate.
"We heard Shigute was invited here. He is responsible for pushing thousands of people off their farms to places where there is no water, no food," said Saeed, winner of the government of Manitoba's recent Human Rights Commitment award.
"Why are we in Canada associating with this man?"
According to U.S., European and Ethiopian media reports, legal experts and human rights organizations, Shigute is leading the removal of peasant farmers from southern Ethiopia. Many of these families are allegedly being sent back to the region where the world saw shocking images of famine in the mid-1980s.
Shigute could not be contacted for comment, but he has denied the allegation in media reports from Ethiopia.
"We should not be doing business with this man," said Obang Metho, a U of S graduate and executive director of Washington D.C.based Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.
Metho penned a letter to U of S president Peter MacKinnon, as did officials with other human rights groups in advance of Shigute's arrival.
"I would like to highly commend the University of Saskatchewan for their laudable efforts in reaching out beyond the borders of our great province and nation to meaningfully address the long-standing issues in Ethiopia of chronic food insecurity, malnutrition, lack of agricultural development and inadequate health care," Metho wrote.
However, Metho lists the concerns over Shigute's involvement, including the forced removals, a citation for corruption surrounding his time with the national coffee growers' association and other allegations. He said the U of S should take a stand for the people of Ethiopia and demand Shigute be removed.
"Truth, academic freedom, freedom of expression and the respect for the basic dignity and rights of all people do not exist in Ethiopia. The U of S, the people of Saskatchewan and the government of Canada can all help create an environment most conducive to success by unflinchingly addressing these issues," Metho wrote.
Wishart said he's heard from about one dozen people expressing opposition to Shigute's presence. Wishart said the university receives 150 different delegations every year and he wasn't aware of the allegations against Shigute.
"I'm not in a position to make any judgment," he said.
Wishart said university officials are consulting with the Canadian government and others on the issue, but no conclusions have been reached yet.
Wishart said the 15-year partnership has been of great benefit to both Ethiopia and Saskatchewan, providing valuable education and knowledge exchanges.
Officials with the Canadian government's Foreign Affairs and International Trade department said they would look into the matter, but had not responded by press time Tuesday.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Exploration regains momentum at Nyota’s Ethiopian project

JOHANNESBURG ( – ASX- and Aim-listed gold exploration and development company Nyota Minerals has started a 14 650 m infill drilling programme at its Tulu Kapi gold project, in Ethiopia, as part of a definitive feasibility study (DFS).
Initiated with Wardell Armstrong International, the drilling programme is aimed at converting a further 260 000 oz of inferred resources to indicated status by the end of the fourth quarter. This should result in significant upside to the DFS and confirm a mine life of at least 10 years.
"Exploration has rapidly regained momentum now that drill rigs and technical personnel have become available following completion of the engineering and hydrogeological programmes undertaken as part of the DFS,” commented CEO Richard Chase.
He noted that target prioritisation in and around Tulu Kapi is being driven, firstly by resource expansion and upgrade and, secondly, by the need to ensure mining infrastructure does not impede future access to resources.
“The current exploration programme is progressing well and we look forward to providing a first reserve calculation in the coming weeks, once all the elements of the DFS are complete. It remains the case that the submission to the Ministry of Mines to complement our application for a mining licence will take place at the end of June," he said.
Emphasis would also remain on the drilling out of new resources derived from the multiple targets already broadly defined in a 20 km radius of Tulu Kapi, with a short-term emphasis on those targets in a 5 km radius of Tulu Kapi likely to influence the project's economics and potentially the location of infrastructure associated with the Tulu Kapi mine.
The Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant mineral resource announced in March comprised 0.83-million ounces of indicated resource and 0.84-million ounces of inferred resource. This resource will form the basis of the DFS to be submitted to the government of Ethiopia at the end of June in support of the company's mining licence application.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ethiopian woman to stay in U.S. for good 2 years after arriving thanks to Portland family |

yodit1.jpgView full sizeYodit Derese shares a laugh with her immigration lawyer, Teresa Statler (right) and orthopedic surgeon Hans Moller on Sunday. The 24-year-old native Ethiopian thanked a gathering of family and friends for their support in her three-year journey to become a U.S. resident. In July 2010, Moller corrected Derese's clubfoot, and one year later, Statler filed for Derese to be given indefinite asylum, which was granted in May. Both Moller and Statler offered their services to Derese free-of-charge.
Nearly two years to the day Yodit Derese arrived in Oregon, the Ethiopian native stands surrounded by the handful of people responsible for giving her a new life.

The once-disabled Derese is poised, she is grateful, and she is tearful. "I say thank you, God, for all these people in my life," she says. "I'm so happy to have this great family."

It's a sunny June Sunday in Portland, and the group has gathered at a party just for her. They celebrate the recently granted indefinite asylum that allows her to stay in the U.S. for good, culminating a three-year effort filled with uncertainty to improve her well-being and give her opportunities she would never have in Ethiopia.

Before all this, Derese had been a crippled orphan living in poverty. To her, this group of doctors, tutors, lawyers and friends are now family, because they are the ones who paved the way three years ago for her journey.

Derese's introduction to the people who changed her life was in 2005, when Eric Shreves of North Portland first met the now 24-year-old in a mud hut in Ethiopia. Shreves was in the country to pick up Naomi, Derese's sister and an orphan he and his wife, Hilary, had adopted. From that moment, the family became determined to help Derese, who suffered from clubfoot, a congenital condition that causes one or both feet to twist out of place.

As a child, Derese underwent four surgeries to correct it, but her foot grew the wrong way and caused a limp. In Ethiopia, she couldn't work much and was considered a social outcast.

When the family learned she was too old to be adopted, they looked for other options. At the very least, they wanted Derese to undergo surgery that would finally mend her foot and ease her life.

After several failed attempts to get her to the U.S., the Shreveses contacted U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who helped them get Derese a "humanitarian parole" designation that allowed her to fly to Portland in June 2010 for medical treatment.

yodit2.jpgView full sizeDerese holds freshly roasted coffee beans up to the noses of friends and supporters attending her celebration at the Historic Kenton Firehouse on Sunday, when she and others from Portland's Ethiopian community held a traditional coffee ceremony.
Overcoming that hurdle felt good, Hilary Shreves said, but the family worried about what would happen next.

"We were so excited to have her here for surgery," Shreves said, "but in the back of our minds was that it was temporary. The more she was here and the more we heard her story ... we said, 'Oh, we cannot send this girl back.'"

In July 2010, Derese underwent surgery at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center that corrected her clubfoot. Hans Moller,  the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery, and his wife, Shandy Welch, assembled Derese's team of doctors and physical therapists. The group donated their services, which otherwise would have totaled about $20,000.

Her full recovery took about a year.

"The first few months were tough," Hilary said. "She was in a lot of pain."

During that time, the Shreveses learned about "indefinite asylum," which the government grants to people who can prove they would be persecuted if returned to their native country.

It was a long shot, because only about 20 percent of indefinite asylum applications are approved, said Portland immigration attorney Teresa Statler, who took Derese's case for free. Statler filed for asylum in June 2011.

"We were arguing that as a young disabled woman without family in Ethiopia, she would essentially be homeless and living on the street," Statler said, "and that rose to the level of persecution."

Last month, they received word: Asylum had been granted.

"I said, 'Oh praise God,'" Derese said. "I'm done. I'm done now."

Hilary Shreves said they had been preparing for the worst.

"It's like a fairy tale," she said. "Our country is so good. They looked at her situation and responded to her need. We are just overjoyed."

And on Sunday, Derese and her new family gathered to celebrate. She and her friends from Portland's Ethiopian community spent three days cooking a meal traditional to their country, a gesture she said was necessary to thank everyone.

yodit3.jpgView full sizeThe gathering listens to Hilary Shreves, who, with husband Eric Shreves, worked tirelessly to bring Derese to the U.S. for treatment on her foot and to arrange for the former orphan to be able to stay in the country.
"This is a celebration," she said. "I'm happy to make it for all of these people who have supported and helped me. I am happy to show them how my country's food is made."

Derese's once-visible limp has disappeared, and she now runs to catch a bus to Portland Community College, where she takes English classes and hopes to one day receive a degree. She also has a small business cleaning houses, and she baby-sits twice a week.

In a year, Derese will file for permanent residency, and five years after that she can apply to become a U.S. citizen. She plans to do that, but for now, she said she's just enjoying the feeling of freedom.

"I'm just thankful," she said. "God is good, and he knows my life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ethiopia: Who is rocking this cradle? « CarsonPue

I had wanted to visit here for years because of my friend Aklilu Mulat, my former colleague at Arrow Leadership. Aklilu is Ethiopian and had introduced our family to Ethiopian food and cultural tid bits. However, none of this prepared me for my first visit here.
Often referenced as the “cradle of civilization” Ethiopia is a landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa. It is bound by its bordering neighbors Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and Eritrea. For outsiders, famine, war, poverty and drought are the things most synonymous with the Ethiopia. Even now, it’s still one of the least developed countries in the world, so those preconceptions would not be entirely baseless.
It is a country of over eighty-three million people – and believe me getting accurate census data is extremely hard in these environments. Addis in 2007 had just under four million people (last census). Today they estimate between six and seven million.
Based on Human Development Indicators ( a standard used globally to measure life standards) Ethiopia is eighth from the bottom of one hundred and seventy-seven countries. Life expectancy is 51 years of age – younger than both Bob and I now, and one in six children die before their fifth birthday.

Dubliner, Bob Geldof organized Band Aid and Live Aid benefits for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Many of us remember Ethiopia from the early 80′s when television brought home the impact of severe drought and the resulting famine that left more than eight million people facing starvation. Well if that broke my heart, the situation today, while different, sure wants me to do more to help here. I am looking forward to meeting the leadership of World Vision‘s national office here in Addis and visiting one of their Area Development Projects on Wednesday and Thursday this week north of here. WV has been working here on the ground since 1971 – a decade prior to the famine crisis of the 80′s. I look forward to hearing about what it is like on the ground here today.
Some of the changes I notice here are:
  • the indicators of economic growth like many new buildings in the last three years – although I do smile at some of the construction techniques still being antiquated.
  • there are no street signs or house numbers here in Addis. People refer to locations by landmarks. With all the new building taking place, landmarks are being replaced and they are talking about having to one day name streets and even create a map of the city.
  • walking downtown today I noticed many more women wearing what I might describe as western or european clothing styles. Not all, but my first trip here I saw nothing like this.
  • There are some new churches that have begun in the downtown area – protestant evangelical charismatic tribes
  • There are still no stop signs anywhere making driving here very exciting
  • Construction has been very good for employment and for retailers selling building supplies
  • Much of the money coming into Ethiopia is from China and India
China and India possess the weight and dynamism to transform the 21st-century global economy. I think it is easy for us in North America to put our head in the sand over this. But come to the global south and you will see it more clearly. In the coming decades, China and India will continue to disrupt North American workforces, industries, companies, and markets in ways that we can barely begin to imagine. We are looking forward to being in India in the
My first visit to Addis 7 years ago left me in shock by the poverty and the chaos that surrounds this city.

Over 100,000 boys and girls abandoned on the streets of Addis Ababa
Today, on my third visit I am grateful to see all the change – in a positive direction with the economy but am still left with questions about the overall impact on children. There are estimated to be over 100,000 abandoned children living on the streets of Addis. We have met some who have gotten off the street through the work of Youth Impact but the numbers are overwhelming.
Tomorrow, we head north of the city to a place no one here in Addis has heard of. It is an area development project ofWorld Vision.
I knew it was a little off the road when I read that we are travelling there by vehicle and horseback.
This is not the first, or the last, time that World Vision will be in a place few have heard of. I do know that they are there because of the children and the ability to transform a community.

Quick Linker

Amazon SearchBox

About the Bloger

My photo

Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.