Aster Kidane has dedicated the past thirteen years to working on behalf of refugees in Ethiopia and the United States.
Aster fled Ethiopia in 1998, at the start of the Ethiopia/Eritrean war, and made her way to the United States, where she received asylum later that year. Because she was of Eritrean Origin, she was prohibited from working once the war started and was closely monitored by the government. Before the war, Aster had worked for the Jesuit Refugee Service and provided direct social services to more than 100 refugees from Africa.
As a program officer and then project director, she developed a number of successful programs that increased assistance to refugees and the internally displaced. Aster worked with the Riverside Church Sojourners Ministry to recruit volunteers to visit asylum seekers held in the Elizabeth, N.J., and Wackenhut, N.Y., INS detention centers.
She has worked tirelessly to negotiate with detention officials to gain regular access to the detained and has been a forceful voice in educating the public about refugee and asylum issues.
Aster has a Master’s Degree in Women and Development from the Institute for Social Studies in The Hague, the Netherlands.