EYC Spotlight

Each month EYC will be highlight young Eritreans doing extraordinary things around the world! If you would like to nominate a talented friend, co-worker, family member or community leader email us at eritreanyouth@gmail.com.



Omnia Abdurbo

1) What’s the number 1 played song on your iPod?omnia02
The Urban Theme by Maxwell

2) If you could witness any event, past, present or future, what would it be?
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

3) How did you get involved in the Eritrean Canadian community?
I got involved with the Eritrean Canadian community through my work at Sojourner house as a Settlement Counsellor and most recently with the Eritrean Canadian Community Center as I took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator.

4) You work a lot with newcomers to Canada. Tell us why this is important to you and the community.
As an immigrant to Canada, I am cognizant of the myriad of barriers faced by marginalized individuals. I feel that discrimination and a lack of equality is still present in the current Canadian society. For this reason, I have made it a personal commitment to work from an anti-oppressive and inclusive framework, and empower newcomers while ensuring their safety and well-being.



senaipicSenai Tesfay

 1) Who are you rooting for this summer for the FIFA World Cup and why? 

I’m going for the Dutch. I’ve been riding with Netherlands since I was a kid but they always disappoint me. Whether it’s by making if far and then losing or simply not being able to score penalty kicks. My second choice would be where I was born, Germany! That team is consistently good and has my fave player Ozil.

 2) If you were immortal for a day, what would you do?

Can you even be classified as immortal if you only last a day? But to answer the question, I don’t know, maybe go to Chicago and smack up Chief Keef for the stupid revolution he started.

 3) When and how did you first get involved in the Eritrean-Canadian community?

I’ve been a part of programs with ECCC since I was a young-in. Tutoring, sports programs etc. I began working briefly at ECCC in October of last year after I returned to Toronto.
4) You started the Friday night basketball program at the Ryerson Community School. Tell us about why you wanted to create that program and why it’s important.
I started the program with a lot of assistance from my co-workers Omnia and Lihem as well as the Toronto District School Board. It was important to start this program because nobody was networking with our youth for sports programs. We had programs when we were younger and then the community split and the programs were discontinued. Also the methods in which older administrators were attempting to engage youth became obsolete.

5) What embarrassing story does your family always tell about you?

I can’t really think of one, but my momma used to make me perform Michael Jackson routines for guests that came over. If MJ is the king of Pop then I’m the prince of Soda!


Bethel Woldemichael

1) When and how did you first get involved in the Eritrean-Canadian community?bethel
I first started getting involved in the Eritrean-Canadian community when my older cousin & uncle ‘voluntold’ my cousin and I to help at the annual Eritrean festival here in Toronto, as cashiers. It was a summer when I was in high school, I needed my 40 hours so I ended up helping out by selling cotton candy, ice cones, tickets for the jumping castle, etc to kids and their parents. I actually really enjoyed it, learned a lot about our community and met a lot of new people. I came back each year until I started University.

2) Who is your dream dinner guest, dead or alive?
That is a hard question, can I have a buffet style dinner and invite Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, my grandfathers? But if I had to choose just one, it would probably be Nelson Mandela. For so many reasons, but a few are: to just hear his stories, lessons from life, and maybe by sitting near him . . . some wisdom can be passed onto me haha

3) What is a quote you live by?
A quote by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote applies to my life in that I try to treat people with love, compassion and empathy because (not only is it my humanly duty) but I understand the power of emotional memory. Also, I treat others well in hopes they will pay it forward.

4) Why do you think it’s important for Eritrean youth to be involved with organizaions like YEMA and EYC?
Well to begin, we are a (small compared to other) diasporic community but still a very connected, cultured group of individuals. No matter your place of birth, you still have aspects of your identity that include: smelling like tsebhee in class, bringing food to school/work for lunch and the minute you warm it up/open up your container – everybody knows it’s you, and I call all that being Eritrean! Our Eritrean identity is apart of us, no matter where we go, and we should honour our parent’s desires to keep connected, stay involved and build our community up by getting involved with organizations like YEMA and EYC.

Luwam Thomas

1) Name… Where you’re from… What you do?

My name is Luwam Thomas. I graduated with a BSc in Nursing Degree from Ryerson University. Currently I am working as a registered nurse at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. I am studying at George Brown College to complete my certification in Cardiology Nursing and have hopes to complete my Masters in the future.  Along with my love for nursing, I have a passion for music, arts, and my country Eritrea. Music has been a part of my life since I was young, starting piano lessons at age five at the Royal Conservatory of Music. I continued my lessons for 14 years and currently wish to pursue my studies at a university/college level, with a focus in music composition. Some of my other hobbies include photography and bike-riding.

At age 14, I began playing Eritrean music as solo piano shows at Eritrean local community events. In 2006, I produced an Eritrean Instrumental CD, in which I played popular cultural Eritrean music. The total proceeds of the sale of the CD was donated to the Eritrean Martyrs Children Fund. In my late teens I started a journey in search of young Eritrean artists in Toronto to create a band; 2007 Bahli Tesfa was formed. We performed at various Eritrean and non-Eritrean events for 3 years promoting our culture through music and dance. In promoting Eritrean culture, I participated in the Miss AfriCanada 2009 Pageant in which I was awarded 2nd Runner-up and best talent. In addition, I wrote an essay for a university course titled, “The Role of Music in the Eritrean Struggle for Independence”. It was featured in a local community newspaper, eritreancompass.com, and recently in shabait.com. I have received awards such as the Harry Jerome Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship, and the Aroni Arts award for commitment to youth and the arts.

Recently, I have begun sharing my work to the cyber world through my YouTube channel Hade1Hade. In the channel you will find my work in Eritrean music, Eritrean cuisine cooking tutorials, how-to-play the kirar tutorials, and most recently the Eritrean Mass Online Music Collaboration Project of 2013.LT HADE1HADE

2) What where some of the challenges you faced along the way? How did you work through them?

The two biggest challenges I’ve faced with my projects are time management and maintaining participant dedication or commitment.

All the projects I have done, considered as my hobbies, were done aside from school or work. When I was in school, my first priority was my studies and completing my homework before I work on a project (although sometimes I would get too excited about a project and do the other way around). Time management is something that I learned overtime. The fact that I was equally passionate about my career in nursing and my love for music, forced me to figure out ways that I can balance my time between the two.

Starting a project is easy. Maintaining the project is where the challenge comes in. In most of the group projects that I initiated, encouraging participants to stay as committed as they were in the beginning could be a challenge. One, as the leader or promoter of the group, has to be twice as committed and twice as passionate about the project all the way through in order to encourage others to stay the course. The key is to never give up.

3) What was your most proud moment?

Number one most proud moment was graduating from university and working in my chosen career. With hard work, and support from families and friends, I feel blessed to have completed my studies in four years and found a full-time job in a workplace that I love.

My second most proud moment to date will have to be the recent online project: The Eritrean Mass Online Music Collaboration Project of 2013. EMOMCP2013 was a 5-month project to unite young Eritrean artists (musicians, vocalists, dancers, painters, photographers, artists) to perform an Eritrean song as they expose their talents to the world, completely online.  All of the participants in the project have not met each other in person, which is what made this project so remarkable. It shows that even just through a simple internet connection, we as Eritreans united together, no matter where we are living can work towards a common goal and do great things. LT_EMOMCP

On a personal note, it showed me that if I can put my mind to it, anything is possible. When I started this project, I had never imagined it would turn out as huge as it did; shared all over the internet in various websites, being aired on EriTV in Eritrea, featured in their national newspaper “Eritrea Profile”, getting hundreds of responses and feedback from Eritreans all over the world. It was a proud moment in that I was able to accomplish my goal of bringing together my Eritrean brothers and sisters from all over the world, using art and music as a vehicle.

 4) Best advice/ wise words you applied along the way?

“Work hard for strong academic knowledge, and genuinely participate in as many activities as you can. Somewhere along the way you will discover yourself.”

5) Team Kitcha fit-fit or Team G’aat?

My mouth is watering at this question…Team G’aat all the way!


Sephora Woldu, Creator of Impressa!

EYC had the pleasure of hosting a screening and meet and greet with Sephora Woldu, the self-taught director of Impressa! The San Francisco, California native answered a few questions for us before she made her way to the Montreal Film Festival. Enjoy!!



Juwaher Yusuf, Intern at UN General Assembly 

IMG_41021) How long did you work for EYC and on what project?

I worked with EYC for just over one year as the Operations Manager.

2) What are you up to now?

I am currently interning at the General Assembly for the United Nations in New York. It has been a whirlwind of an experience thus far and in the winter I look forward to interning with the Clinton Foundation!

3) What did you learn while at EYC?

My learnings from EYC haven’t stopped! It’s always nerve-wrecking starting a role not knowing anyone, but the way I was embraced by the Steering Team, Staff and Board Members exceeded my expectations. When you join EYC, you are not only a part of a dedicated team but a family; people who truly have your best interests at heart and want to see you excel in the work that you seek to accomplish. The relationships and networks built, the interaction with community, the opportunities for leadership and social activism, navigating and accessing supports in the city, and the understanding of civic engagement were among many of my learnings.The fantastic thing about EYC is that it nourishes an environment for the learning and growth of young leaders. It has been phenomenal to work alongside an organization and passionate individuals that fully support ones personal and professional development. 

4) What is your vision for youth in the community?

“Each generation must discover its mission; fulfill it or betray it” – Frantz FanonMy vision is to see vibrant, young leaders in our community maximizing their full potential. I’d like to see the cohesiveness and connectedness strengthened among us; where as a collective we can provide supports to one another and celebrate our accomplishments.