A Trip to the DDR - "The Journey of my Life"

Chapter 10: 30 Years Later

30 years have gone by since Shimelis visited the DDR in 1987, 30 years later the once 14-year-old boy has grown up and built a whole new life in Ethiopia. In the last part of this story, Shimelis takes us into his present life and how his journey into the DDR still impacts his life. by Michael Geithner (21 Nov 2017)

Me and my Family today

Today, I live in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa and I work as publishing coordinator in The Ethiopian Kale Heywet (Word of life) church head quarter. I am also working part-time in the head office of the evangelical magazine called Heywet (Life) as the editor-in-chief. The magazine is published by my local church (Geja Kale Heywet).

I am happily married and the father of two daughters. Currently, I am studying journalism and communication at Addis Ababa University to achieve a second degree. My wife, Abaynesh, has a diploma in nursing but she is not working. Our eldest daughter, Mihiret, is 20 and she has completed her second year in veterinary studies and will graduate in July 2018. She is also studying German at the Goethe institute here in Addis Ababa. She is sponsored by a family in Munich, the Beckers. Her younger sister, Misikir, who is 15, is still following up her schooling struggling with her disability. But she is alert and socially active. I want my daughters to speak German and integrate the culture and the German values to their lives. My mother-in-law and my niece also live with us. So, our household contains six people.

Our German Family

I would like to express my thanks from the bottom of my heart to our bavarian family, the Beckers. Even though, we have never seen each other, we are in touch regularly and became very close. They are very innocent, supportive and generous.

Dear Michael  and Jennifer,

Words can’t express the gratitude and respect my family has for you. We benefited from you in multiple ways. You gave us hope, when we had none. You stretched your generous hands towards us, when we suffered from scarcities and lined with us in all our ups and downs. You showed us what true love and respect to humanity in spite of colour, race and other differences means. Above all, you helped us to stay in touch with Germany. So, thank you for being at our side!

The Beckers, Michael and Jennifer, who support Shimelis and his family

Final words

I grasped crucial life skills from my time in the DDR and my German family. Hospitality is a great social value in Ethiopia. I experienced the same in Germany: All doors and hearts were open to welcome me. My colour and race brought no difference between us. In fact, through our diversity, curiosity towards each other grew quickly.

Text: Shimelis Haile Aga
Editorial staff: Michael Geithner, Lisa Laubner
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