Youth Betrayed

Faces and Voices – Grown-Ups

K. Araya – Age 39

youthI joined the war for independence in 1989. Two of my brothers died in the war, and a third brother was crippled. Despite my own painful combat wounds to my head and leg, I was forced to remain in the Eritrean army after independence. I fled to Saudi Arabia, but then was deported back to Eritrea where I was jailed for a year, then re-assigned to active duty. I realized that nothing was being done for the Eritrean people – only for the Eritrean regime. So I came here, to Ethiopia. I feel proud of having fought for my country and having helped win independence. But I also feel betrayed. I now understand that I was really only fighting for a clique of rulers, and that makes me very sad. It’s not just that I was betrayed, but that a whole generation of youngsters in Eritrea have no future, and I feel guilty for having contributed to their plight. I was the chair of the Refugee Community Council here for two years, and now I help children with training and care.