Since leaving his home country of Ethiopia in 1999, Mulugeta Gofar has faced several challenges. Whether being displaced to Kenya or struggling to find work, his perseverance has helped him overcome countless obstacles.
Mr. Gofar was born in the capital city of Addis Ababa. His family owned and operated a commercial transportation business, connecting the capital to regional ports. But in 1998, a long-standing boarder conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea erupted into a full-scale war. As a result of the fighting, thousands of Eritrean nationals were deported from Ethiopia; several of Mulugeta’s family members fell victim to these deportations.
In an attempt to escape the conflict, Mr. Gofar fled to Nairobi, Kenya with his wife—an Ethiopian national. Kenya provided a haven of religious and political freedom for his multiethnic family. Despite a happy life in Nairobi, Mulugeta’s time there was marked with uncertainty: his Ethiopian documentation was no longer valid, and he had no way to obtain Kenyan identification. After 15 years, he received assistance from the United Nations and was awarded a refugee visa to the U.S.
Since his arrival, Mr. Gofar has contributed a great deal to his community. He has worked as an interpreter, nursing assistant, driver, and auto mechanic. Mulugeta is currently attending St. Paul College where is working to complete a degree in automotive repair. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.