Dear friends and supporters of the Big Araia film project. Another productive trip to Washington, D.C. has concluded. It started with my arrival at an informational meet and greet at Queen Sheba restaurant after having just landed at BWI airport. We had a great turn out and I was able to share my story with some new friends and reunite with companions I had not seen in years.
As you might expect, any DC trip I have made in the last six months included a visit with the Eritrean Embassy to check up on the status of the Visas for my film crew. This trip was no different. The staff was very supportive and assured me that my project would go forward. I have several kind individuals assisting me with this process, both here in the states and back in Asmara. I hope the Visas are approved soon.
Once again I am back on the task of fund-raising for the film. An effort that is challenging, but rewarding. Keep your eye out for my updates! More exciting news to come! Hint… Eri-Fest 2012
Make sure you go here to make a donation! http://bigaraia.com/?page_id=21
I am having a small get together at the Queen of Sheba Restaurant on 1503 9th st. NW in DC this Wednesday, July 25 at 6pm. The purpose of this event is to elaborate more about my project’s purpose and give more background information to potential donors to the project. Happy hour is from 4 to 8pm – 2 for $5 beer and rail drink specials.
I am very happy to answer any questions you may have. Come hang out a brotha!!! This film project is important. We must keep our younger generation connected to their African heritage!
Filming is an expensive process. And this documentary wont get made without your support! If this story moves you, if you think it is important to reconnect with a lost history, family, and identity, then please click “support this film” on the top menu and donate today! Thank you and God Bless!!!!
Dreams. Odd things, really. They manifest in our waking or sleeping state, supplying us with visions that can range from tantalizing to the absolutely terrifying. There are those few precious moments, however, where the impressions formed in the far reaches of our subconscious mind come forth with a clear and concrete meaning for our lives. The realization that we are looking at a possibility we never wanted before can be a unsettling experience. It is like watching a movie we wrote for ourselves, but we can’t ever remember putting pen to paper.
This project isn’t something I wanted to do my whole career, let alone my whole life. I just knew that I had to go “home”. And as I was making plans to go to Eritrea this summer, it came. A succession of images played in my mind’s eye as a film would on a projector screen. The plane, the relatives joyfully teared faces, the music, the land, the food, the ocean, the embrace of everything I lost 34 years ago – all right there for me to touch. Almost.
The moment my mind returned to the present, I knew my future had been altered. This homecoming must be filmed, documented, experienced by others. It is a rather big undertaking, and I have made some progress these last few months. But, as I reach 34 tomorrow, my goal still seems miles away. I need your help. Any rendering of my dream into something real will not happen without you. I can just barely hear the whispers of my father and his forebears. If you join me in this endeavor, I will find out where they want me to go next.
- Araia Patrick Tesfamariam
ps. Donations to the film are the Perfect Bday present!
I still need a lot of help. Filming is, unfortunately, an expensive endeavor. Your donations help to make this love story – this life story, come to the big screen. Thank you and God bless you for your help!
- Araia Tesfamariam
Earlier today I was contacted by a man from Vancover named Tewolde who said that he knew my father. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote.
“When I was a student at Teachers Training Institute Asmara in 1967, Araia was a student at SANTA FAMILIA. There was a villa across the street from PWD Edaga hamus owned by Ato Estifanos Mengasha and had a service with two rental suites. One was rented by my friend and myself and the other was rented by Araia and his room mate named OSMAN. Araia was the only child to his parents, he was extra ordinarily protected and well financed as they were wealthy to that time standard of living.He frequented going to watch ITALIAN movies. One of his favourite actors was ADRIANO CELENTANO. He kept on mentioning the name of the actor quite often, as a result we stopped calling him Araia but CELENTANO, that was his nick name in Asmara. I am glad he has a son and found out his heritage. My admiration to the woman who restlessly worked to answer his question for his son Araia.”
I keep learning so much…..
I was running late today. Printing out my presentation at the FedEx was complicated and I needed to rush to the embassy. I hailed the first cab I saw. As I got in, I noticed the cab driver was Habesha. When I told him that I needed to go to the Eritrean Embassy, he looked at me strangely and asked where I was from. When I told him I was from Ohio, he asked if my mother was African-American. A chill ran down my spine.
He said he knew my father and had met me before. As I looked at his eyes in the rear view mirror, an old memory came to the front of my mind. It was as if his face had suddenly come into focus. I didn’t even need to look at his driver ID card. His name was Araia Isaac. He used to own a restaurant in DC called Massawa.
I met him once and only once. My mother and I had taken a trip to Washington DC when I was 12 and, as we usually did when we visited a big city, we had decided to go eat at a Habesha restaurant.
We met the owner and he was very nice to us. But the reason I remember him to this day, after only meeting him once, was that he was the first Araia I had ever met. I thought I was the only one. It made me feel less weird, and more assured that there were more people like me out there – that I was connected to something.
And here I am, 20 years later, sitting in his cab as I head to the Eritrean Embassy to begin a new chapter in my journey towards self discovery, and everything is coming full circle. I am truly blessed.
Still on the road... DC!!!
First, I would like to thank everyone who came out to the Queen Sheba restaurant in Addisson, TX. We had a great time and I had the chance to show a lot of people what this project is all about. It was so good to see Elsa and Berhane, the owners of Queen Sheba, after 5 years away from Dallas. It was also a blessing to meet Feven, Elise, Nauny, and Abbie; some very important women who supported “Big Araia” before I met any of them in person. God bless you all.
I landed in D.C. last night. My goal is to make sure I secure whatever permission I need to insure filming in Eritrea goes smoothly. I might even have a chance to meet a few more key people in the Habesha community here that can help get more donations for this film. Wish me luck!!!
Can’t wait to get back to Dallas! I am throwing a big fundraising party for my film project with the help of my dear friends Elsa and Berhane Kiflom. Thank you Feven Tekie for all that you did to make this happen! Every one in the DFW is welcome. It’s on Friday, May 25th! Please come and enjoy a great time at:
Queen Sheba Restaurant
14875 Inwood Road Addison, TX 75001
Doors open at 10pm.
No Cover! Donations Welcome!
It has been a wild ride these last few months. I learned a lot from my fund raising campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I was successful in raising over $10,000 with the latter and I appreciate all of you who contributed. While it’s only about 20% of what I need to finish this film, it is enough to buy the tickets for the crew and get a few key pieces of equipment ordered.
This new Big Araia website is now the permanent home for the film project. All the latest updates on our progress will be posted here. The fund raising for the film continues and you can donate any amount you want by clicking “Support This Film”.
Since I have a new site up, I though I would celebrate by sharing a picture of my mom and dad together. I have so few of them. These rare pictures often give me the only insight I have ever had into what kind of person he was and how he expressed himself.