I’m really proud to be part of a legacy of strong women that belong to Eritrea. In a war that originally started out strictly for our men to battle, young Eritrean women and girls abandoned their traditional roles to sacrifice their lives in the name of freedom during the Eritrean revolution. My father said it this way, “when we went to the field, we did not intend to come back.”
Many of our women gave their lives not only for the overall freedom of Eritrea, but so that Eritrean women and girls could be recognized and valued for their potential and live a better quality of life. They trusted that the future of Eritrea and the lives of women and girls would be one of ease and honor. A freedom they could only imagine.
But the girls and women of today, who make it out of war, limited domestic roles, indefinite national service, to enter the diaspora are more likely to experience a type of hardship and discrimination our brave predecessors could never have imagined.
There is a massive flow of migration of young Eritreans both lawfully and unlawfully into neighboring countries. Their consistent movement is predictable and strategic for those in the business of human trafficking. If captured, women and girls are often tortured, raped and impregnated by their captors, then held for ransom. If they are lucky enough to have their ransom paid–something upwards of $30,000–or somehow freed by the efforts of human rights activists like Meron Steffanos, then they are met with hostility by the countrymen and women in the nations they find refuge.
In Israel, African refugees are often targeted with verbal and physical violence and racist policies to limit their progress, their movement, and to make their chances at a new life–impossible. Eritrean women, and their children birthed out of rape, are often accosted because they are black, single mothers and their children seen as illegitimate and a disgrace to their societies.
After surviving extreme abuse, torture, enslavement, rape, giving birth, and watching people die, the women who make it out are left with a trauma so deep that it is debilitating. But the Eritrean Women’s Community Center (EWCC) is fighting to serve the needs of these women in Israel and to give them a chance at that life of freedom they sacrificed so much to attain. Their goal is to give these women refuge and a returned sense of hope, self-worth, and purpose they lost during their horrific journey to Israel. The EWCC helps them find their voice in the new struggle for their right to live in this country as free women.
The EWCC was founded by Zebib Sultan and a group of female Eritrean refugees. These group of women felt the deep-rooted racist and sexist efforts by Israeli’s and their government to make life difficult for these women by implementing racist tax policies and encouraging public verbal abuse. But after receiving training from Amnesty International, the group formed the EWCC as a refuge from the hostility. It is now headed by Helen Kidane, an Eritrean asylum seeker, community activist, and a mother. The Eritrean Women’s Community Center is a nonprofit made up of Eritrean, Israeli, and American women who are dedicated to improving the quality of life for their clients.
My family came to the US in 1983 as refugees during the 30-year struggle. Yes, we experienced animosity when we got here and we still do: racism, sexism, and an internal struggle within the Black communities we lived (side note: many of the Black churches in the US are responsible for the sponsorship of thousands of Eritrean and Ethiopians, so an honorable shout-out to the Black Churches of America for being our refuge and giving us a chance at a new start). But the xenophobia and struggles we faced as immigrants under past US presidents, is nothing like the ones that Eritreans and other Africans are going through all over the world, today, especially in Europe and under the current president of the US.
I decided to write this post because I believe that my readers are powerful people who understand that what happens to any group of women in any part of the world ultimately happens to us all. If children are being birthed out of rape and then being subjected to violence by merely existing then we can only expect that energy to end up at our doorsteps, tenfold. Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We can do something about the injustices happening to Eritrean women and children in Israel. The EWCC is one of the very few places in Israel that these women can go to and receive access to mental health support and referrals, vocational training, health education, and enrichment programs and we can help them do what they do best.
We are today more than ever, able to be the change we want to see in the world with a simple click of a mouse. You can support the Eritrean Women’s Community Center as they help the Eritrean women refugees and their children thrive against all odds, in the following ways:
You can donate to the EWCC (please do), click here.
You can help feed a family in the EWCC, click here.
You can host an event for the EWCC. To learn how, click here.
If you want to contact the EWCC, click here. They are more than willing to answer any of your questions and provide you with more information.
Friends, feel brilliant. Feel alive. Feel powerful. If you’re living in the US or anywhere else where you don’t have to worry about the issues that the women in this post do, then you and I are living large. Let’s be brilliant and shine our light on the EWCC. Let’s help EWCC do what they do best in reminding the Eritrean women refugees in Israel, that their lives matter.
So with that said,
Thank you so much for reading. I truly care about you and the wellbeing of our women and children in this Brilliant world of ours. Continue to be blessed and bless others. Stay Brilliant:)