Twen Beyene grew up in a completely different world than where she lives now. Her days were spent without electricity, technology and many of the luxuries so many take for granted. But she treasures her old life as she continues on in her new, recognizing how the challenges she endured daily made her a braver, stronger woman. This story is part of MALA’s scholarship essay contest. To see more scholarship essays, click here.
I was raised in Tsorona Eritrea, and that shaped me into who I am today. My neighborhood was very different from what I experience now, and it challenged me to be a stronger individual in every way possible.
My hometown was so entertaining to me. I wanted to live there, despite its challenges. It was an enjoyable and fun place to hangout with my childhood friends. We would go to school together and play in the sands on the way back home. Since there was not much technology, boys usually played soccer and the girls played games like hide and seek. The community was social, and we had many interesting things nearby, like animals, mountains and many unique plants. Considering cars are expensive, people used bikes or walked to stores, school and work. It was exciting riding the donkey from the farm with water or for groceries. It felt unique to live in countryside and it shaped me to be a determined woman.
The environment was active because there were many things for us to do. There were farmers everywhere and everybody who lives there has their own small farm to grow their crops. It was incredible to me how all the neighbors helped each other with planting various kinds of wheats. Growing up in the countryside required physical movement and it made me a stronger and more energetic person.
Not everyone in the area had electricity to cook or for light, unfortunately my hometown was one of those without technology. We resorted to gas and logs to make fire. Because of this, we had to go to the forest by the mountains to bring sticks and other stuff that that would help us make a fire. We would then carry the materials on our backs and ride back with our donkeys. When you think about it, it is somewhat funny how so many people around me now aren’t able to last an hour without a phone on their hands, when not so recently I didn’t even have access to a laundry machine. We would wash our clothes after weeks or months by hand.
Back home I was a little girl who had many friends and would fight and get in trouble with teachers. In school, if we didn’t listen to the teacher or disrespect her in any way, we would get punished with a stick to our hands. It wasn’t easy at our age, but it challenged us to be more mature and brave. Also, at school we would fight outside to see who was the strongest, even with our friends. Fighting each other and saying mean things wouldn’t stop us from being friends, in fact it made us be more honest with each other. I believe that these confrontations made me a more respectful and stronger person. I became a better person through my struggles and through my happiness. Life allows us to grow up, and experiences shape us to be who we are.
Things have definitely changed for me. I grew up with animals, the beauty of mountain nearby and with no transportation. But now I am living in a big country where everything is different. I don’t worry about how I’m getting groceries or electricity anymore. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to be a hard worker. My life, in just a few years, turned into one filled with happiness and joy. But my original environment shaped me to be as strong and mature as I am now.