Forced into Military Servitude, Berihun Was Enslaved and Tortured as a Youth

Forced into Military Servitude, Berihun Was Enslaved and Tortured as a Youth

Meet Berihun, Survivor from Eritrea

Berihun is a refugee from Eritrea where the United Nations has documented lawless killings, widespread imprisonment of political activists, and involuntary military service of children. Freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly are severely limited.

As a teenager, Berihun was forcibly taken from his family and enlisted into military service. That’s when he says his life was no longer his own and that each day became a “quest for survival.”

The years of his military training can only be described as sadistic. He says, “We were beaten, fed contaminated food, exposed to the scorching heat of the Eritrean desert.” Verbal abuse, degradation, and extended periods of confinement in metal cages exposed to the burning sun were normal practices.

Though he suffered through years of forced military service, Berihun refused to take part in the harm and killing of other soldiers, a frequent requirement. He held onto the belief that every human life should have dignity. For this infraction, he was taken to a detention center, imprisoned and tortured. Upon his release, his family feared for his survival. Quietly and carefully, they helped him flee the country.

In California, he found PTV. Many courageous refugees like Berihun seek safe channels and new lives, but they’re often alone and destitute. They need your help to regain health and well-being.

When Berihun came to PTV, we diagnosed him with PTSD and counseled him through the unending nightmares that plagued him. He has received therapy to cope with the memories of those merciless years in military servitude and the PTSD symptoms that they have wrought. He also received food, help with housing and transportation, and English language classes. And through our network of volunteers, we were able to find an attorney who has helped him with the complicated asylum process.

Today, Berihun meets each person with a spirit of generosity. He insists on helping where he can and brings a wholeness that he wasn’t able to when he first arrived at PTV. He is grateful to have escaped with his life and to have renewed hope for the future. His life reflects the best of what generous donors like you make possible.

The name, image and identifying characteristics of some clients may be changed to protect client confidentiality and the safety of family and friends that still live in the client’s country of origin.