Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ethiopians Journey for Hope

By: Theodore Fikre

The Ethiopian experience in America is no different than all Americans. Most Ethiopians immigrated to America searching for the American dream—a dream for a better life and a new opportunity. Most arrived in America with the determination to fulfill the promise that America embodies; destined to realize this dream armed with little more than hope on their side. Ethiopians—like all Americans--embrace the message of Barack Obama, a message that our lives are intertwined with our infinite commonalities.

It was for this reason that Mike Endale, Theodore Fikre, and Jima Tufa set out to volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign. They embarked on a trip from Washington, D.C. to Columbus Ohio eager to contribute their part to deliver a profound change to America and a victory in Ohio. For these three, the 420 mile journey was a deeply gratifying experience. They shared a common desire to transform a political discourse that far too often divides communities to one that embraces our differences as a source of national strength. Driving through the great state of Maryland and crossing through the mountains of West Virginia, they arrived in Ohio with a sense of purpose and optimism.

The three days in Ohio was a memorable experience; Mike, Theo and Jima volunteered in the Pipe Fitters Union Hall and the Barack Obama headquarters. They canvassed with fellow supporters, knocking on doors and being greeted overwhelmingly with enthusiastic supporters of Barack Obama. On Sunday, they reached out to the Ethiopian community in Columbus. They embarked on outreach efforts to the local Ethiopian churches and the various Ethiopian markets. They were greeted with effusive support from every Ethiopian they met; most enthusiastically stating their intention of voting for Barack Obama and cheerfully putting on Obama pins to display their support. Ethiopians of all ages--men and women--were eager to vote for Obama because they identified with Obama's optimism for the future and the hope that set him on his improbable journey.

Mike, Theo, and Jima came to Ohio to inspire the Ethiopian community to believe in the change that Barack Obama exemplifies, instead they went away inspired by the same Ethiopian community's wholehearted embrace in a change they already believed in. Along the way, they met and befriended fellow volunteers who made the same journey to Columbus from far away places such as Boston, Minnesota, Chicago and South Carolina. They drove back to Washington armed with the optimism that the Ethiopian community will deliver a resounding victory to Barack Obama on March 4th.