Tel Aviv 2015
Six years ago, Hermon fled his home in Eritrea hoping to find freedom somewhere else and arrived in Israel as an asylum seeker.
I was introduced to his escape story. His frightful journey, everything he had been through and how he is trying to cope here with an almost impossible situation, far from home, homesick and missing his family. I was privileged to meet a determined and very brave man.
When he was 14 yrs. old, Harmon escaped by himself from his country, which is a dictatorship. A place where human rights do not exist and instead it is ruled by imprisonments, torture and killings which threaten anybody who refuses to follow the regime.
He had left his mother and five brothers and sisters. His father was killed previously during his military service.
After the bus had dropped him off at a public park in south Tel Aviv, he found himself, at the age of 14 starting a new survival path. He had learned the language all by himself, worked in back rooms of restaurants and supported himself. Lately, he started to devote every free moment to sports, mainly bicycle riding and running, and determined to pave his own route to freedom, he started to practice intensely and even participates in competitions.
When he was summoned to attend "Hollot" (a detention center for refugees) it seemed like his world was collapsing. When he packed his things for a one year stay there, I watched carefully as he chose meticulously the things he wanted to take: a small suitcase with clothes, his bicycle and a heavy box filled with books. I saw in front of me a guy with a huge desire for knowledge who wants to advance in his free life and who is being sent to prison for the mere reason that he is a foreigner in a country that has no idea what to do with all these thousands of asylum seekers.
At the gates of the detention center we said goodbye to each other with tears of hope and silence. This was an unforgettable moment!
He was not allowed to take his bicycle inside, but was lucky enough to have good people who live nearby and agreed to keep them in their house, something which allows him to go out and practice riding.
Harmon is 20 yrs. Old now and he is not giving up. He must survive this phase as well.