The Loss of Home

Mulugeta Abai’s path to Toronto began in Ethiopia during a period of violent political unrest. Mulugeta, who was a teacher at the time, experienced the rise of a “military junta” and the systematic targeting of people just like him – “teachers and those who could read and write.”

Mulugeta was detained unfairly multiple times. The first time he was imprisoned, he was released only one day prior to the execution of two colleagues. And yet, “they had done nothing wrong.” As Mulugeta recalls, “I was really fortunate I survived.”

The second time Mulugeta was imprisoned “for working against the government.” He was detained for four months along with seventeen other teachers and two students. It was not until guerrilla opposition fighters invaded the prison that he escaped.

Mulugeta was then unlawfully incarcerated a third time for twenty-two months, “along with about fifty-five to sixty people.” Here he recalls being held “in solitary confinement” and “seriously, seriously tortured.” Their captors would come at night in “military cars” and “take them out, execute them, and throw them on the streets.” Many educators and young students were executed while he was fortunate enough to survive and later to be released.

Upon his release, Mulugeta became “completely ostracized” because he “opposed the government,” was terminated from his job, and was unable to find work. Mulugeta moved from Gondatr To Addis Ababa and after many months of unemployment he was offered his former job in Nazret and later moved to Sebeta. . “Everybody was against me. Everybody!” because I was labeled as a dangerous person. This, coupled with growing fears for his family’s safety, convinced Mulugeta to “t[ake] the risk” and he embarked on the seventeen-day journey by foot to a refugee camp in Sudan.