The biggest heartache for Chakisso was leaving his mother Zetuna and one of his younger brothers Adam, 18, behind in Arsi. This made high school a living hell for the Ethiopian native.
Chakisso lives in Northeast Portland and attended Madison, where he was constantly reminded that he didn’t fit in.
“I wanted to go back to my country,” Chakisso says. “I hated life so bad. It’s really hard separating from my mom. We’re trying to get them over here.”
He was fortunate to have family in Portland, including his father Waritu, along with four of his five siblings: brother Mustefa, 23; sister Keriya, 22; brother Gutame, 17; sister Kume, 15; and brother Risku, 8.
His father, of the Oromo ethnic background, fled the country after a handful of (government-related) run-ins with the law in Ethiopia when Tahir was a boy. There has been a constant feud between the Oromo people and the Ethiopian government during the last 100 years. Oromo natives have been fighting for their freedom.
Tahir hadn’t seen his father for nearly six years, but his father was able to get the paperwork to be approved by the American Embassy in Ethiopia and settled in Portland because he already had family here who knew the area.