In Ethiopia, the word Bayou means to know someone without ever meeting them. Health Sciences Pipefitter Bayou Tekle’s name is a tribute to his grandfather, who passed away two months before his arrival. While he never met his grandfather, Tekle feels that he did get to know him through his family.
Tekle grew up in Arsi, Ethipia, before heading to Addis Ababa University in the country’s capital to study information technology. But, his degree path was cut short by a conflict between the government and its predecessor. When Tekle and thousands of other college students were forced into military training by the previous government,he knew it was time to get out.
Tekle fled to Kenya and settled in the world’s largest refugee camp. He spent four years working for relief organizations helping refugees from seven different nations cope with the environment and build
communities. After four years of service, Tekle qualified for a visa to come to the U.S. for college with his wife, Anna, whom he met in the refugee camp.
Upon arriving in Minnesota in 1996, Tekle got a two-year degree in advanced systems servicing and design from Dunwoody Institute. After a five year apprenticeship, he became a journeyman and worked for several different companies before arriving at the U in 2010.
A tireless worker, Tekle has spent the last five years building his dream house in Minnetonka. The family rented until the basement was finished, and expanded into other rooms as they were completed. He did 90% of the work himself.
As if he wasn’t busy enough, Tekle also finds time to volunteer handyman services for churches and take construction management courses at the U.
Bayou and Anna have raised five children, including a daughter, Lidet (13), and four sons, Henoch (5), Yonatha (7), Birsat (15) and Worku (19), whom they adopted from Ethiopian friends soon after arriving in Minnesota.
Just as with Tekle, his children never met their grandfather, who died in Ethiopia about 20 years ago. True to his name, however, Tekle’s children have come to know their grandfather through him.
“I inherited my ambition from my father,” said Tekle. “He was a coffee farmer and put ideas in my head about what kind of life I should be living. My kids want to hear the story of my childhood again and again, and that influences them. “
Hopefully Tekle will have a chance to meet his grandchildren. But, if he doesn’t, they’ll certainly benefit from the wisdom he’s passed on to his children.