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Journey Toward Joy

by Siem Kidane

It was in April of 2018 that I decided to change my life. I made a brave decision to escape from my country, Eritrea, to Ethiopia. I had to cross the border.

I start with this: The decision was brave because I understood that what could happen to me was no joke. If someone crossed the border illegally, the first thing to remember is that you broke the law in our country. Second, if border guards saw you, they would think you were an enemy escaping. Maybe they would shoot you. Or, if you gave your hand peacefully, they might take you to prison instead. So, your life is in your God’s hands.

I made a deal with a guy on the internet anyway. I’d pay him to guide me across the border. After two days, he gave me instructions with the time and place to meet him. Then we were going to escape. We started our travels after the sun went down, hidden from people’s eyes. My younger brother was with me. There were seven people at the meeting place that we didn’t know. After two more days, we started the trip and began to cross the border on foot. We were
caught.

Our guide ran away. We were deserted in an unknown place, surrounded by guards. One of them shouted at me to not look at his face. I wanted to protect my brother and didn’t do as he said. The guard then pointed his gun at me. My brother silently cried. I looked away and prayed that they didn’t hurt him. They beat us, but we were not shot. My brother, a minor, was sent back home. I was taken to a military prison, where I was held for one year. It was a very bad
place.

I never gave up on my plans. After one month in prison, I began my research. One morning at 2:00 am, it was dark, but the moon was out. The time felt right. I could escape from the military base. I ran and ran. Then I froze.

I couldn’t make my legs move. When I slowly turned my head, I saw a hyena. In that situation I felt fear and frustration, but an idea came to my mind. When he passed by me with his scary laugh, I searched my pocket and found a yellow light. I flashed it in his eyes, and he ran away. I thanked God at that moment. After a few hours, I reached Ethiopia, and I was there for three months. My brother joined me again. We then went to Nairobi, Kenya, for six months and finally arrived in the United States, and I could help my family.