"In 2005 when Eritrea’s only university shut its doors, I made the choice to leave my country in pursuit of higher education. I could not see any hope of change in the harsh treatment and indefinite military service that I was in.
I knew little of what to expect when migrating. All I knew was that I needed to leave Eritrea. After running and walking for almost a day, five other people and I managed to arrive safely in Sudan in March 2005.
It was here that I started to ask myself what I should do with my life. In pursuit of education, I travelled to South Africa by way of paid smugglers. I felt confident in my choice to leave Eritrea until 2008 when xenophobic attacks against African migrants rose in South Africa. I could not leave my room for two weeks.
My growing dissatisfaction with the country’s refugee management system lead a group of us to advocate for safer processes in seeking asylum. It was during this time that I co-founded a refugee led organization called Unity for Tertiary Refugee Students (UTRS), which advocated for university scholarships for refugee students. Seeing fellow refugees graduate was among one of the happiest moments of my life.
I gave up working as an engineer. For the last six years I have been advocating for the plight of all refugees and the migration crisis and ending the human rights violations with the goal of building democracy in Eritrea. My advocacy takes the form of speaking at international Summits such as One Young World, writing articles at the Huffington Post and the G7G20 and being a panelist at university events.
I have founded an initiative called Lead Eritrea, which allows me to help educate and network fellow Eritreans. I also recently founded a student association at my university called Student Outreach for Refugees, Asylees and Immigrants (SORAI) to help the most needy part of society. The plight of refugees is close to my heart.
Looking back on life in my home country, I miss everything. More than anything, I miss my mother who I have not seen for more than 10 years. I keep myself so busy that I don't have much time to think and stress about all the things I miss.
To date I am still a refugee and it has been more than ten years since I first left Eritrea. In this process I have become stateless, an asylee and a refugee.
These moments changed the course of my life, but they weren’t all happy. I lost many friends while migrating. Many of my countrymen were held for ransom by smugglers, some of them had their organs trafficked in Egypt. Many drowned as they tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea.
I have moved from country to country for the past ten years, and have grown attached to all the places I have been since. But I hope to return to Eritrea someday so I can help rebuild my country democratically and educate my society.
Because I am a political refugee, I know I cannot go back to Eritrea so I try to make home wherever I go.”
Meron currently assists in resettling Eritrean refugees in California, and also serves as a One Young World Ambassador. This story was provided by i am a migrant's partner, One Young World.