Selam (not her real name) is an Eritrean refugee who fled her homeland seeking safety eight years ago. A single mother of an autistic child, Selam holds two university degrees but is unable to hold a regular job due to restrictions placed on refugees in Ethiopia.
Refugees are not allowed to hold work permits in Ethiopia. However, refugees are able to put their skills to work as incentive workers. It’s in this role that Selam works for JRS, teaching English to fellow refugees at the JRS Refugee Community Center here in Addis. For the past several years, Selam has also been undergoing the long and rigorous process of seeking asylum in a third country — in this case, the United States. She hopes to become self-reliant and find support for her autistic child.
Selam spoke with JRS June 18 in Addis Ababa.