Visiting Eritrea: A Journey to the Birthplace of my Parents

By: Helen Woldu

I had just ended a loving and healthy relationship and I needed to leave Los Angeles. I contemplated whether I should go to Eritrea for I feared for my safety. My parents did as well (they weren’t supportive of my decision at all but in the end they were happy). I decided to visit the birthplace of my parents in Eritrea and meet my paternal grandmother once and for all. It took the embassy three months to approve my visa but I didn’t allow that to deter me and I was very persistent and used all of my resources to get there.

In the end, meeting grandma was one of most profound moments in my life. I learned so much about my family history, the Eritrean /Ethiopian conflict, the colonization of Eritrea during Mussolini days, and I discovered elements of my identity that could only be unmasked through this journey.



Helen Woldu is a 27-year-old Eritrean-American living all over the world.  She is a founding team member at a tech startup called Threde. Helen is a growth hacker with a specialization in business development and she is currently experimenting with code. Every now and then she takes photos of people, places and things.



Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

7. July 2017 at 17:44

First of all, what a journey and I am happy that you went. There is nothing like “really” knowing where you come from. Secondly, your pictures were so profound. They really drew me in.

7. July 2017 at 17:54

What a beautiful collection of shots! My sister always gets “Are you Eritrean?” Lovely!

8. July 2017 at 5:41

These are absolutely stunning photographs! What an amazing time you must have had getting to know and learn from your grandmother. I love what you were able to capture in these images.

Lia World Traveler
8. July 2017 at 16:39

What an incredible experience and great pics. Thank you for sharing!

Bianca Dottin
9. July 2017 at 15:38

It sounds like you had such an amazing experience.


9. July 2017 at 16:57

Wow, I love the pics and I think it’s so wonderful that you went and connected with your family!

9. July 2017 at 23:22

I am happy that you had that experience. Grandmothers are often a jewel to the family and they hold so much knowledge and wisdom regarding the roots of the family. Thank you for sharing.

9. July 2017 at 23:35

This is a very beautiful picture along with the photographs! They have a really powerful meaning that really struct my eye ! They have these new gadgets that “try” to tell u where you are from but it’s amazingly beautiful to see you actually go and experience for yourself ! Overall a wonderful story that was wonderfully well Written! Bravo!!!

Karen Akpan
10. July 2017 at 10:57

Wow, I am so glad to hear that you went to visit. I’m sure your grandmother was so happy to see you. And OMG, the slideshow was amazing. I’m sure you had a great time!

10. July 2017 at 15:28

It is pretty dope that your were able to visit and embrace where your family is from. There’s a lot of fulfillment in that.

Distinguished Diva

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