Citizenship Stories 2017: Abeba


Abeba shows a photo of her mother and son, Yafet, on their summer adventures.

“Don’t keep it to yourself”

Abeba came from Ethiopia to the U.S. for a better life. She arrived first with her husband, and then their young son Yafet joined them. Abeba says “It was difficult for him. At first, I couldn’t find a school for him…it’s very difficult to find a school for him [where I live]. He stayed home for 1 year. It was very hard.” But now he’s in school and his mom has applied for a Certificate of Citizenship for him after she became a citizen in May 2017.

Abeba heard about Project Citizenship through word of mouth, like many clients. After a successful citizenship process, it is now her mission to share news of the good work of Project Citizenship with others. She has met many people who cite reasons such as costs, confusion, and failed attempts for why they have not become citizens.

She says, “I don’t keep the information [about Project Citizenship] for myself. I have shared with three people now. Two people are citizens now. One of the ladies just had her interview last week and she passed. I said: ‘We have to share!’”

Caring for and helping others is important to Abeba, who just started work as a Certified Nursing Assistant. “If you are helping someone, that’s good. I like this job.” Abeba has also started taking classes in order to advance in her profession.

Voting was Abeba’s top reason for becoming a citizen. She adds, “If you are a citizen, you have more opportunities, you have better chances.”

She’s also looking forward to traveling when everyone in her family has U.S. passports because she’ll feel more secure. When asked what she’ll bring back from Ethiopia, she reveals a big eager smile and says, “Traditional food. And traditional clothes.”

Abeba’s siblings and parents miss her, but they are proud of her. She is aware of the language and social barriers they would face if they were to live to the United States, but they have loved visiting. Her mom (pictured with Yafet) visited the summer after Abeba became a citizen.

How does she feel about becoming a citizen?

“I feel good. I feel happy. I feel comfortable.”

Safe to say that’s a goal any American would aim for.