Ibrahim Omer – Eritrean and New Zealand Member of Parliament

Ibrahim Omer

Ibrahim Omer MP

“I work hard, I am determined but not unique. I happened to be in the right place, at the right time.”

Ibrahim Omer is being modest. His case is extraordinary in many ways: from Eritrean National Service conscript to refugee in Sudan, then on to New Zealand and life as student at Victoria University of Wellington, before being elected to parliament.

Ibrahim described working until 4am cleaning the university, then attending a lecture at 10am in a room that he had cleaned the night before. He was awarded his degree and joined the Labour Party, being elected as a Member of Parliament in 2020.

To get an insight into Ibrahim Omer and his early life I called him up. This is his story.

“I had a typical Eritrean upbringing. My family were middle class, and come from about 40 km from Massawa. But I grew up in Asmara.

I went to high school just round the corner from President Isaias’s home and the American embassy – at the school that was called “Santa Ana” until independence and is today Semaatat High School.

I was drafted into the army in 2000, during the war with Ethiopia and was sent to the southern area, near Senafe. By this time the fighting had stopped and the UN peacekeepers were deployed to monitor the border.

The commanders treated us kindly, because we were new conscripts, but we couldn’t say anything without it getting back to them. Everything we said was reported.

After 7 – 8 months I could see where things were heading. There was no future for someone like me and I decided to leave, which I succeeded in doing in 2003.

I went through a lot of challenges in Sudan; there were many hurdles. But I worked as an interpreter was finally resettled in 2008 through New Zealand’s refugee quota scheme.

Even then it was not easy, but 12 years later I was a Member of Parliament! I work hard, I am determined but not unique. I am happened to be in the right place, at the right time.

Being an MP is surreal. I wake up and think “this can’t be real!” But later that day I am debating bills in the chamber of parliament!

A few years ago, I was a nobody.

But my mind set was always that I can do anything with hard work and determination. I can do something with my life.

But in my wildest dreams I didn’t think I would be in parliament, when there are so many things against you. I just wanted to go to university, get a job and live a normal life.

I still have mixed feelings.

I could have been working for and serving the Eritrean people, if we had a government that cared for its people and the country. Eritrea has a huge potential and hardworking people. We are very determined. We could turn a rock into almost anything!

But now I couldn’t be happier. I could not be prouder of New Zealand or being part of the Labour Party government led by Jacinda Ardern.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m not unique, I’m not special. I work hard and I was in the right time and place.”

 

Ibrahim is being modest. His case is extraordinary in many ways: from Eritrean National Service conscript to refugee in Sudan, then on to New Zealand and life as student at Victoria University of Wellington, before being elected to parliament.

 

Omer described working until 4am cleaning the university, then attending a lecture at 10am in a room that he had cleaned the night before. He was awarded his degree and joined the Labour Party, being elected as a Member of Parliament in 2020.

 

To get an insight into Ibrahim Omer and his early life I called him up. This is his story.

 

“I had a typical Eritrean upbringing. My family were middle class, and come from about 40 km from Massawa. But I grew up in Asmara.

 

I went to high school just round the corner from President Isaias’s home and the American embassy – at the school that was called “Santa Ana” until independence and is today Semaatat High School.

 

I was drafted into the army in 2000, during the war with Ethiopia and was sent to the southern area, near Senafe. By this time the fighting had stopped and the UN peacekeepers were deployed to monitor the border.

 

The commanders treated us kindly, because we were new conscripts, but we couldn’t say anything without it getting back to them. Everything we said was reported.

 

After 7 – 8 months I could see where things were heading. There was no future for someone like me and I decided to leave, which I succeeded in doing in 2003.

 

I went through a lot of challenges in Sudan; there were many hurdles. But I worked as an interpreter was finally resettled in 2008 through New Zealand’s refugee quota scheme.

 

Even then it was not easy, but 12 years later I was a Member of Parliament! I

 

work hard, I am determined but not unique. I am happened to be in the right place in the right time.

 

Being an MP is surreal. I wake up and think “this can’t be real!”

 

But later that day I am debating bills in the chamber of parliament!

 

A few years ago, I was a nobody.

 

But my mind set was always that I can do anything with hard work and determination. I can do something with my life. But in my wildest dreams I didn’t think I would be in parliament, when there are so many things against you. I just wanted to go to university, get a job and live a normal life.

 

I still have mixed feelings. I could have been working for and serving the Eritrean people, if we had a government that cared for its people and the country. Eritrea has a huge potential and hardworking people. We are very determined. We could turn a rock into almost anything!

 

But now I couldn’t be happier. I could not be prouder of New Zealand or being part of the Labour Party government led by Jacinda Ardern.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m not unique, I’m not special. I work hard and I was in the right time and place.”

 

Ibrahim is being modest. His case is extraordinary in many ways: from Eritrean National Service conscript to refugee in Sudan, then on to New Zealand and life as student at Victoria University of Wellington, before being elected to parliament.

 

Omer described working until 4am cleaning the university, then attending a lecture at 10am in a room that he had cleaned the night before. He was awarded his degree and joined the Labour Party, being elected as a Member of Parliament in 2020.

 

To get an insight into Ibrahim Omer and his early life I called him up. This is his story.

 

“I had a typical Eritrean upbringing. My family were middle class, and come from about 40 km from Massawa. But I grew up in Asmara.

 

I went to high school just round the corner from President Isaias’s home and the American embassy – at the school that was called “Santa Ana” until independence and is today Semaatat High School.

 

I was drafted into the army in 2000, during the war with Ethiopia and was sent to the southern area, near Senafe. By this time the fighting had stopped and the UN peacekeepers were deployed to monitor the border.

 

The commanders treated us kindly, because we were new conscripts, but we couldn’t say anything without it getting back to them. Everything we said was reported.

 

After 7 – 8 months I could see where things were heading. There was no future for someone like me and I decided to leave, which I succeeded in doing in 2003.

 

I went through a lot of challenges in Sudan; there were many hurdles. But I worked as an interpreter was finally resettled in 2008 through New Zealand’s refugee quota scheme.

 

Even then it was not easy, but 12 years later I was a Member of Parliament! I

 

work hard, I am determined but not unique. I am happened to be in the right place in the right time.

 

Being an MP is surreal. I wake up and think “this can’t be real!”

 

But later that day I am debating bills in the chamber of parliament!

 

A few years ago, I was a nobody.

 

But my mind set was always that I can do anything with hard work and determination. I can do something with my life. But in my wildest dreams I didn’t think I would be in parliament, when there are so many things against you. I just wanted to go to university, get a job and live a normal life.

 

I still have mixed feelings. I could have been working for and serving the Eritrean people, if we had a government that cared for its people and the country. Eritrea has a huge potential and hardworking people. We are very determined. We could turn a rock into almost anything!

 

But now I couldn’t be happier. I could not be prouder of New Zealand or being part of the Labour Party government led by Jacinda Ardern.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. Ibrahim Omer is the best Eritrean example and a testimonial of a true Eritreans hard working people sample. Not only for himself but he makes us all so proud as a country. There is hope for Eritrea’s future with the Eritreans who have a real dream of change.

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