A Surprise From A Sister To A First-generation Immigrant
With no dreams of leaving her home country, Eritrea, to her sister, surprising and delivering her a Diversity Immigrant Visa, making her a first-generation immigrant to America. She came across many life-changing and eye-opening experiences that were very challenging; faith and strength testing.
However, with strength and gratitude she continues to succeed as an immigrant, daughter, and mother.
Giving birth to her first daughter Sara, in 2002 Tesfay had no plan on leaving Eritrea. She planned to continue to provide for her family and daughter right where she was. She had always made it known to her family she had no interest in the "American Dream". When Tesfay took this opportunity she was more shocked than anyone. She said, "When my sister surprised me with the Diversity Immigrant Visa because she believed I had good luck. I knew my daughter's future was on the line and I couldn't take that risk."
To this day, she never thought she would stay here for 12 years or even make it in America. She dealt with a lot of change and went from living with her parents and the majority of her 11 siblings to a country with just her and her daughter. She said, “I’d be lying if I said I hadn't been afraid or scared, but I told myself this is where you’re meant to be right now, make the best of it”. She experienced the challenges of raising a child alone in a new country while also learning a new language and life in America.
She had no plans on staying in America, getting married, and having children. All of that changed when she realized she could do it all while still providing for her family while thousands of miles away.
She may have migrated from Eritrea to America but her story didn’t start there, she was born in 1976 in Ethiopia and later at the age of 14 moved to Eritrea, once they gained independence from Ethiopia. She finished high school while also being in sports, such as Acrobats. She went on to join the military, as it was mandatory, and later she finished her service she went to beauty school, becoming a certified hairstylist. She was doing what she loved and providing for her family, with no plan on moving away.
Tesfay came from a family that was very big on giving; she was always a Peoples person. When she chose to come to America her top priority along with providing for her daughter was, giving back to her family, country, and those in need. She said, "I've always believed and lived by the saying When you are blessed give to others."
She was working three jobs for the first five years she was in America, she said “it wasn’t easy at all, I was tired but I had no choice.” She went on saying, “I had bills to pay, a family to provide for back home, babysitters to pay and all I wanted to do was give my daughter the best possible life.”
“I always missed home and I was exhausted, angry, sad, and questioned my choice of agreeing to come to America.” she continued to say, “ I didn’t have anyone I was close to, like my siblings, whom I could go to with anything.” To this day she cOntinues to miss being close to her family, even though she has gone back to visit, but she said “the phone calls are what keep me strong and I cherish them.”
Tesfay has always been a social and outgoing person which has helped her create amazing connections on her journey from Eritrea to Kenya and America. She knew a neighbor that had moved to Minnesota from Eritrea, and they helped her find a sponsor, an apartment, a job, and a school for her daughter. While she found many helping people, she also experienced those who took advantage of her because she didn’t know any English and wasn’t familiar with America.
Within a year and a half, she met an amazing man, Ghirmay, whom she now has been married to for 8 years. She now has three children with him who are 9 years and younger. She said to me, "I always believed in God but this journey has taught me to put everything in God's hand because at the end of the day he had a plan for me.”
“It all went better than I expected,” she said “I may have been thousands of miles away in a country I didn’t know much about, but in my heart, I was still so close to my home, which was all I needed to continue to move forward.”
Azieb Tesfay said, "Even with all I've been through, these past couple of years has been worth it." Taking the opportunity to come to America has given her the chance to grow her family, provide for her family in Eritrea, and grow in ways she never expected. she said, "Minnesota may not be home forever, but it's home for now."