English

Category: English

An Eritrean immigrant in Vermont is up for the top award in the restaurant industry

Alganesh Michael’s catering business, A Taste of Abyssinia, was born during the lockdown of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Michael, her two daughters, and her husband, Abyi, were all home. Michael had been offering pop-up meals and cooking classes in the cuisine of her native Eritrea and neighboring Ethiopia for several years. 

Together, the family decided that Michael should start a catering business. One of her daughters designed the web site and Michael began taking orders for delivering meals. 

Three years later, the  Eritrean immigrant who does not have a restaurant is a semifinalist for a prestigious James Beard Award for best chef in the Northeast.

“I’m not a big-shot chef or anything like that at all,” said Michael, who now offers takeout meals every Wednesday at the Mill Market and Deli in South Burlington. “I’m just a regular person.”

The James Beard Awards generally go to chefs who work in restaurants. Michael said that, at the moment, she has no plans to open her own restaurant. 

“I’m going to continue what I do because I love what I do,” Michael said. “I have the opportunity to travel to small towns in Vermont. If I am locked down to one place, yes, people will come to me, but I will not have the luxury to travel. I love offering this food to folks that would not know it otherwise.”

Michael, who lives in South Burlington, is a former nurse in her 50s. When she was young, she said, she moved from Eritrea to Minnesota to join her brothers and her father to pursue her studies in nursing. There, she met Abiy, the man who would become her husband. The two eventually moved to Vermont when he accepted a job there. They have two daughters.

https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-300x200.jpg 300w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-125x83.jpg 125w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-768x511.jpg 768w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-1536x1022.jpg 1536w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131.jpg 2000w" alt="" width="610" height="406" class="wp-image-412252 lazyloaded" style="box-sizing: border-box; height: auto; max-width: 100%; border: 0px; vertical-align: bottom;" data-attachment-id="412252" data-permalink="https://vtdigger.org/alganesh-michael-2-20230131/" data-orig-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131.jpg" data-orig-size="2000,1331" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"5.6","credit":"Glenn Russell","camera":"NIKON Z 6","caption":"Alganesh Michael puts a tray of seasoned mushrooms in the oven as she cooks her Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine at a kitchen in South Burlington Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. Michael is a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards as one of the best chefs in the Northeast. Photo by Glenn Russell\/VTDigger","created_timestamp":"1675202439","copyright":"Glenn Russell","focal_length":"20","iso":"4000","shutter_speed":"0.008","title":"alganesh-michael-2 20230131","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="alganesh-michael-2 20230131" data-image-description="<p>slug: James Beard chef</p> " data-image-caption="<p>Alganesh Michael puts a tray of seasoned mushrooms in the oven as she cooks her Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine at a kitchen in South Burlington Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. Michael is a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards as one of the best chefs in the Northeast. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger</p> " data-medium-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-300x200.jpg" data-large-file="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-610x406.jpg" decoding="async" data-src="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-610x406.jpg" data-srcset="https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-610x406.jpg 610w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-300x200.jpg 300w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-125x83.jpg 125w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-768x511.jpg 768w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131-1536x1022.jpg 1536w, https://vtdigger.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/alganesh-michael-2-20230131.jpg 2000w" data-sizes="(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px" />
Alganesh Michael puts a tray of seasoned mushrooms in the oven as she cooks her Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine at a kitchen in South Burlington Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. Michael is a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards as one of the best chefs in the Northeast. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

She said her husband helps her with ideas and advice, but not in the day-to-day running of her business. 

 

She started doing catering, pop-up restaurants and teaching cooking classes through Access CVU, a community education program at Champlain Valley Union High School, in Hinesburg, at least 10 years ago, said Lauren Howard, one of the directors of the program. 

“They love her,” Howard said. “Everything that she does is about experiencing her culture, and I think that’s why people really enjoy her cooking classes.”

Soon after she started offering classes at Champlain Valley Union, she started doing pop-ups and teaching cooking classes at Richmond Community Kitchen, Michael said. Michael also did pop-up events at Tandem, a production kitchen with two long tables in Bristol, starting in 2016, said Jess Messer, co-owner of Tandem. 

“Huge hit,” Messer said of Michael’s pop-ups. Michael would sell out three seatings of 25 people, Messer said. 

“She’s very pure and self-taught and authentic,” Messer said. “It’s really nice to see somebody like that get accolades, as opposed to some sort of more haughty trained chef-y chef.”

As winter approached in 2020, Michael realized she did not want to continue delivering meals in the cold and the snow, so she started the takeout business at the Mill Market and Deli. 

She explained that Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine is known for its spongy sourdough flatbread, called injera, which is accompanied by stews infused with a spice mixture called berbere. The cuisine includes lentils and shiro, a stew of ground chickpeas. 

She takes orders until Tuesdays for takeout Wednesdays because the injera is fermented and must be made at least a day ahead, she said. 

Michael said she loves to cook even when it’s not for work. She said she also enjoys hiking, walking and reading. 

She said she helps Eritrean mothers in a refugee camp. 

Michael said she also goes to schools in Chittenden and Addison counties to speak about the food and the culture of Eritrea and Ethiopia. She brings her food so that people can sample it after she speaks.

She said she had never heard of the James Beard Awards until she was nominated for one as best chef in the Northeast. 

“Not to have your own store, but yet to be nominated for this, is huge,” Michael said. “I’m really honored. If you follow your passion, you can really do things.”

Category: English

Eritrean refugee, 27, who launched 'ferocious, random' knife attack killing a stranger in Oxford Street is detained in a psychiatric hospital

Tedi Fanta, 27, was on bail for brandishing a saw days before he armed himself with a blade and travelled to London from his home in Swansea, South WalesAn Eritrean former child soldier who stabbed a stranger to death in a 'ferocious' knife attack in London's Oxford Street will be held in a secure psychiatric hospital indefinitely.Tedi Fanta, 27, was on bail for brandishing a saw days before he armed himself with a blade and travelled to London from his home in Swansea, South Wales.

Shortly before 8pm on July 1, 2021, he produced the weapon and jumped on retired civil servant Stephen Dempsey from behind outside a Microsoft shop.

Mr Dempsey offered no resistance when Fanta launched the frenzied attack.

Two passing skateboarders feared they had been caught up in a terror attack but leapt into action and hit Fanta with their boards in a bid to disarm him.

They then helped to restrain the attacker until armed police arrived, while other members of the public tended to the 60-year-old victim, who was visiting the capital from Essex.

Mr Dempsey, who was born in Belfast, suffered four stab wounds and died in hospital later that night from a chest wound.

Prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC told the Old Bailey Fanta was 'seen carrying out a ferocious, random and unprovoked attack on a helpless and unsuspecting member of the public'.

She said: 'His victim could have been anyone who was in close proximity to him during the course of that day in central London. Sadly for Stephen Dempsey and his family, it was him.'

Because Fanta, who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was deemed unfit to stand trial, jurors did not have to determine his guilt - only if they were sure he committed the acts he was accused of, Ms Carberry said.

They deliberated for less than an hour on Wednesday to find he had had a knife and carried out the murder.

The court was told Eritrean-born Fanta, who arrived in Britain in 2014, had convictions for criminal damage and assaulting a police officer and emergency worker and was on bail at the time of the killing.

He had been arrested on June 18 2021 for 'brandishing a saw' in Swansea and then bailed to appear at Swansea Magistrates' Court, the trial of facts heard.

Mr Dempsey's sister Kathleen Dempsey has expressed concerns about how and why her brother was killed, the court was also told.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Dempsey said her brother was an 'unassuming' man who had lived in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex since he was a child.

She said the retired civil servant had a 'brilliant mind' and a 'dry sense of humour' and loved live music and languages, particularly French.

Mitigating, Patrick Upward KC said Fanta was conscripted into the Eritrean army aged 12 or 13.

In the years of conflict that followed, the defendant was shot and tortured, Mr Upward said.

He eventually sought sanctuary in the UK and was granted refugee status but 'by then the damage had been done'.

Category: English

Danakali Corporation sells its share of Colluli Potash Mining Project

The Australian Mining giant Danakali which owns 50% of the Eritrean Colluli potash mining project sold its share to the Chinese Sichuan Road and Bridge Group. The French economic website Agence Ecofin reported the news saying that the Australian mining corporation didn’t reveal the reasons behind selling its share in the project. Colluli Potash project is situated in Bada area, 180 km southwest of Massawa port.

Danakali sold its share at 166 million USD, the Eritrean government will earn 45 million USD as a sales tax said the website quoting Danakali which announced the news on Jan.12.

The government owned Eritrean National Mining Corporation (ENAMCO) owns 50% of the project. Colluli project is the most promising mining project in the country with reserves estimated at 1.1 billion tons of Potash. The project, which will generate 50% of Eritrea’s hard currency in the future, is expected to produce potash for the next 200 years.

The deal comes as a landmark in the growing Eritrean Chinese business relations.

Category: English

Eritrean dictator emerges as Horn of Africa’s biggest winner after Ethiopian war

As the smoke clears from the catastrophic two-year war in northern Ethiopia, one of the world’s most ruthless dictators is consolidating his position as the dominant force in the Horn of Africa.His country may be small and impoverished, but Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki has exploited the war to extend his military influence across the region, leveraging himself into a kingmaker role in neighbouring Ethiopia, and expanding his alliances in Somalia and other countries in the Horn.

Mr. Isaias holds such a tight grip on Eritrea that he has not permitted a single election during the 30 years since its independence. His country is often described as “the North Korea of Africa” because of its secrecy, one-man rule, intolerance of dissent and detention of thousands of political prisoners.

Witnesses have told The Globe and Mail that Eritrean troops remain an aggressive presence in Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, attacking and looting civilians in defiance of a November peace agreement that requires all foreign forces to withdraw. Eritrea has also forged links with ethnic Amhara militias – key players in Ethiopia – and with the Somalia government, which sent thousands of its troops to Eritrea for training.

Despite its small population of just five million, compared to Ethiopia’s 120 million, Eritrea wields an outsize influence in the Horn because Mr. Isaias has never hesitated to use his vast military – bolstered by a system of indefinite long-term conscription – to project power outside his borders.

A Tigrayan humanitarian worker told The Globe that he recently witnessed Eritrean soldiers digging trenches outside the town of Adigrat – a sign that they have no intention of leaving. He named 16 towns in Tigray where Eritrean troops are still active. (The Globe is not identifying him because he is at risk of retribution for his comments.)

“Displaced people in Adigrat say there is unprecedented looting and atrocities,” the humanitarian worker said. “Farmers are traumatized, killed and kidnapped by Eritrean soldiers. A 23-year-old woman in Adigrat hospital told me that she was raped by five Eritrean soldiers.”

A report on Dec. 30 by a committee of relief organizations and officials in Tigray said the Eritrean forces and their Amhara allies have killed more than 3,700 civilians since the peace agreement was signed.

In the first year of the Tigray war, the Ethiopian government was unable to defeat the Tigrayan forces, which counter-attacked so fiercely that in 2021 they were able to march toward Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. This left Ethiopia increasingly dependent on Eritrea, especially during a final offensive by their combined armies last August that captured several Tigrayan cities – forcing the Tigrayan leaders to accept a ceasefire and disarmament.

In preparation for the offensive, Eritrea launched a massive conscription campaign and then allowed the Ethiopian National Defense Force, or ENDF, to deploy dozens of army divisions inside its borders as a staging ground – reportedly under Eritrean command. Eritrea used long-range artillery and tank fire to support the attack.

This left Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deeply indebted to Mr. Isaias and seemingly unable to force Eritrea’s troops to leave Ethiopia, even though he has promised this since 2021. Mr. Isaias did not bother to join the peace negotiations between Ethiopian and Tigrayan leaders, and has flaunted his growing power by simply ignoring the recent agreement.

“Isaias has enormous leverage over Abiy,” said Horn of Africa analyst Alex de Waal in a recently published commentary.

“He holds several ENDF divisions hostage in Eritrea, he has agents all over Ethiopia – including, it is reported, in Abiy’s own security detail – as well as allies in Amhara and Afar regions. … No one expects Eritrea to withdraw willingly.”

Mr. Isaias, meanwhile, is also a key power broker in Sudan and Djibouti, where he uses his long-standing connections to militia leaders and rebel groups to fuel sporadic conflicts.

Eritrea’s military adventures have allowed Mr. Isaisas to destabilize his neighbours, preventing any of them from challenging his pre-eminence in Horn, analysts say.

“By interfering in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, Isaias seeks to become the regional hegemon,” the former U.S. special Horn of Africa envoy, Jeffrey Feltman,

wrote in an analysis in Foreign Affairs late last month.

Under the latest ceasefire agreements, foreign forces are required to leave Tigray simultaneously with the disarmament of Tigrayan forces. Last week the Tigrayans began handing over their heavy weaponry to the Ethiopian army under the supervision of a peace monitoring team – but most Eritrean troops have remained in Tigray, despite some relocations.

One of the worst-hit places is Irob, a district near the Eritrean border of about 40,000 people, primarily Irob people, an ethnic minority within Tigray. Dozens were killed in a massacre by Eritrean troops in January, 2021. Today more than half of Irob is occupied by Eritrean forces who halt humanitarian aid and block access to markets, according to Irob Anina Civil Society, a Canadian-based Irob organization.

“It’s a total siege,” said Tesfaye Awala, a Canadian from Irob and current chair of the civil society organization.

“There are no essential services of any k

I think the Eritrean regime believes it’s important to erase the Irob identity.”ind, including clinics or schools. The Eritrean troops regularly raid villages, killing, raping and looting. I feel so sad and devastated.

Category: English

Student from Africa Finds Success in Researching Obesity in Women

With Lidya Gebreyesus’ passion for studying female health, it was fitting that she was one of two women to win prizes at the Three Minute Thesis competition sponsored recently by the Graduate Student Executive Council and the College of Graduate Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.Gebreyesus is a second-year student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She moved to Memphis from the northeast African country of Eritrea in 2021 to study at UTHSC. The culture shock of moving to a new country impacted Gebreyesus at first, but she was able to form connections to make it easier.

“People are friendly when you reach out and say hi to them,” she said. “I started meeting people who relate to my challenges. They’ve helped me grow, and hopefully I’ve done the same for them.”

Gebreyesus has family living in Tennessee, which is what initially drew her to the state. When she started looking into graduate schools, she said there were multiple factors that led to her to UTHSC.

“I was drawn to a lot of the research at UTHSC, especially the research on HIV, which I’ve focused on in the past, and the obesity research that I’m working on now,” Gebreyesus said. “I also liked how diverse the departments were, which told me there would be a lot of diverse people there.”

Gebreyesus has always been interested in studying minority populations and people researchers tend to overlook. Under the mentorship of Maxwell Gyamfi, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Gebreyesus studies obesity in females as they age, a topic she said is often ignored.

“A lot of the research on obesity tends to focus on males,” she said. “The little research that has been done on obesity in females has concluded that females tend to be resistant to obesity, but they were focused on younger subjects. Obesity, particularly severe obesity, and its associated risks, such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension, is actually quite high in females that are older, in their pre-menopausal or menopausal age. So, there’s a really big difference between males and females, and sometimes they need to be studied exclusively.”

The annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which challenges PhD and master’s degree students to present their thesis and research in three minutes with one PowerPoint slide, came around at the right time for Gebreyesus. She attended the 2021 competition, just a few months into her first semester at UTHSC, and was excited to learn about the research happening at the school in such simple terms. She didn’t plan on competing the very next year, but when the sign-ups opened, she had just finished writing her research paper and had recently given her first seminar in front of her department.

“I just thought this would be a good time for me to summarize my work,” Gebreyesus said. “I didn’t expect to win, I just thought it would be good exposure and a good experience for me.”

Even after giving her three-minute presentation, Gebreyesus didn’t expect to win. She thought her chances were ruined when she stumbled over a word, but her friends reassured her that she did well.

“When I was announced as the people’s choice, I was grateful for that alone, but then they announced I won first place, and I was honestly surprised,” she said. “I saw the other presentations, and there were a lot of great ones, so it felt surreal.”

https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/Lidya-Gebreyesus-3MT-e1673380801721.jpg?resize=300%2C210&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/Lidya-Gebreyesus-3MT-e1673380801721.jpg?resize=768%2C537&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/Lidya-Gebreyesus-3MT-e1673380801721.jpg?resize=640%2C448&ssl=1 640w, https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/Lidya-Gebreyesus-3MT-e1673380801721.jpg?w=1134&ssl=1 1134w" alt="" width="770" height="538" class="wp-image-53593" style="box-sizing: inherit; height: auto; max-width: 100%; border-style: none; display: inline-block; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 0px; width: 770px; border-radius: inherit;" loading="lazy" />
Lidya Gebreyesus is shown with Donald Thomason, PhD, dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences, after winning the Three Minute Thesis competition.

Gebreyesus’ presentation, titled “Pregnane-X receptor: The Genetic switch to turn off Obesity in menopausal Women,” won her a cash prize, along with a trip to Tampa, Florida, to compete in the regional 3MT competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools meeting in March.

The second-place winner, Rachel Perkins, also won a cash prize and the chance to join Gebreyesus on visits with alumni, where the winners will share their research and make important network connections. Perkins’ project was titled “WNT5B in Osteosarcoma Stem Cells,” and her mentor is Susan Miranda, PhD, associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

“I’m working in a field that still has a lot of unanswered questions: what causes osteosarcoma, how to treat it, and how to improve the lives of pediatric patients who are diagnosed with it. In addition, the treatment regimen and survival rates for children diagnosed with osteosarcoma have not changed for the last 4 decades, which is why the work I do with Dr. Miranda is so important to me,” Perkins said. “Furthermore, I’m honored to have received second place in the 3MT competition because it’s so important in a research career to be able to briefly communicate your area of interest in both scientific and lay language, and this competition is a fun way to practice that skill.”

https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/3MT-Winners-e1673380457565.jpg?resize=300%2C237&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/3MT-Winners-e1673380457565.jpg?resize=768%2C606&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/3MT-Winners-e1673380457565.jpg?resize=640%2C505&ssl=1 640w, https://i0.wp.com/news.uthsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2023/01/3MT-Winners-e1673380457565.jpg?w=1134&ssl=1 1134w" alt="" width="1024" height="808" class="wp-image-53592" style="box-sizing: inherit; height: auto; max-width: 100%; border-style: none; display: inline-block; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 0px; width: 770px; border-radius: inherit;" loading="lazy" data-recalc-dims="1" />
Dean Donald Thomason poses with the winners of the Three Minute Thesis competition. Lidya Gebreyesus, right, won first place and people’s choice, and Rachel Perkins, left, won second place.

“Conveying a convincing message succinctly is challenging, especially when that message is about highly technical research and is intended for a lay audience,” said Donald Thomason, PhD, dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences. “The 3MT competition helps the students develop that skill so that they can communicate about their work with any audience.”

While studying obesity has led to success for Gebreyesus, she sees it as just a starting point in her research. She hopes to branch out to study the gut microbiome and how it affects both obesity and a person’s overall health. At the end of the day, her goal is to make a difference with her research.

“Research goes on for years and years before it can bring any meaningful solution, but it’s just what a science is – one added information over the other that eventually brings a little change,” she said. “I’d just like to be a part of a positive change for female health.”