By A.G. Ephrem,
Hello Chris Coter,
I am an Eritrean-American residing in the USA. I accidentally got to your website and watched your documentary (Refugee: The Eritrean Exodus). Frankly, I am really happy for you for stepping out of your small box and made some traveling. However, you completely astounded me by your selection of specific images of refuge camp challenges which almost the entire world is experiencing. It seemed that your camera lens was not wide enough to consider many other realities of Eritrea before taunting its image with specific issue.
Dear Chris, have you traveled frequently out of Pennsylvania or the trip to the refuge camps in Ethiopia was your first eye opener to the poor world? Had you made a good plan, you could have gone on the other side of the boarder and truly discovered Eritrea and its governance are well respected amongst the people, their friends and foes. Do you know why? Because, Eritrea staunchly and adamantly stays off the “Food Aid” and follows “self-reliance” as a principle of pragmatic governance.
Now, I was not shocked to see your, “help poor Eritrea with a mean dictator on power” message. The message you are trying to convey was already a card that Eritrea’s foes; including the West; played ad-nauseam. What makes your documentary very interesting is though, you didn’t even make an effort to see two sides of a story and you recoiled back to your natural Western instinct; i.e. “Poor Africa is on Fire, so let’s Pray for it.”
Did it occur to you that Eritrea has made huge strides in the Millennium Development Goals? Meaning, it achieved the results targeted for 2015 ahead of schedule. Did it occur to you that many admire Eritrea and its governance for saying “no to Western exploitation” regardless of the punishments? Did it occur to you that many visit Eritrea and get pleasantly surprised for the peace that Eritrea has achieved since independence in 1991?
Has it occurred to you that before you shoot some pictures you could have studied the economic migration that is rampant throughout other African nations and/or European nations? Or do you like to just shoot pictures for the heck of it?
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I can understand your views come from sheer humanity. But, had it occurred to you that Eritrea was torn in a bitter war for independence until 1991? What a small time frame 24 years are compared to 250 years of democracy! Has it occurred to you that out in the streets of Pennsylvania people with “voting” voices get shot, are homeless, are hungry, without education? Now, I am wondering how a bleeding heart you must have had to go all the way to the world before you made a sense of reality in your own doorsteps. Or do you enjoy feeling secured by measuring yourself to those you call “unfortunate” elsewhere in the world? Is that inherent of the cartoon movies you watched during childhood? Or could there be a motive on your part or on the parts of the people who are campaigning for “THE ERITREAN EXODUS”?
Mr. Coter; like you, I was also naive and optimistic when I crossed the Eritrean border with a dream that I would exercise full life in the West. Little did I know that the streets of Pennsylvania were much scarier than that of Eritrean peaceful streets. I was not aware that I could be out in the streets with no family members to shelter me. I didn’t realize at the time that I would see homelessness, hunger, illiteracy and other ills in Pennsylvania. I didn’t realize that people watch live wars in the comfort of the homes with snacks on the table.
Now, if I could make a recommendation, I would ask you to travel straight to Eritrea. Or if you don’t have time for the trip, you could speak to the Belgian, Hungarian, Norwegian fact-finding teams and journalists and ask them what they gathered about the migration issues of Eritreans. They could have told you, Eritrean migrants are not political migrants but economic migrants.
With that, I am flattered you mastered to spell “Eritrea” correctly. I commend your fast learning ability. Meanwhile, I will share your documentary to all Eritrean-Americans and other Eritrean-Diaspora around the world. Who knows, they may have a wedding ceremony and need a photographer 🙂