A strong family will work together to secure the safety and success of each member, much like a strong team supports its teammates. East Bank Senior Building and Grounds Worker Elias Meskela has had experience with both of these situations.
Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Meskela finished high school and graduated as a general mechanic from technical college in the late 1990’s. Due to dangerous conditions in Ethiopia at the time, he and his family left their homeland for Nairobi, Kenya, and became refugees.
Unable to work in Kenya, Meskela shared an apartment there for five years with his father, brother and three sisters with money supplied by their older brother, Gerawork, who was already in the U.S. working at the University of Minnesota. The family didn’t expect to be in Kenya that long, but had to wait for the immigration process to run its course. They spent much of their time in Kenya learning English in preparation for life in America.
“There was nothing to do there,” remembered Meskela. “You just watch TV all day and sometimes go out to visit friends.”
Upon his arrival in the U.S. in 2004, Meskela was happy to find work with University Dining Services. A year later he became a B&G Worker in FM. Gerawork (Senior B&G) and sisters Misrake (B&G) and Hanna (B&G) also work in FM.
Most of Meskela’s work at the U has been on FM project crews. He likes to help customers make their workplace better and tries to communicate with them so that he can deliver the results they desire. Meskela believes that communication with customers, co-workers and his supervisor are critical to success. That’s why he likes FM’s new Team Cleaning system.
He thinks that Team Cleaning has made FM more productive, but it takes good communication and a team-first attitude to be successful.
“I like my team,” said Meskela. “We talk to each other about what the job is and what needs to be done. If I finish my work as a point technician, then I move over to help my co-worker with their job.”
Now living in Woodbury, Meskela is engaged to his girlfriend Wengeal, who lives in Blaine. The couple has a 20-month old son, Adonias, and enjoys going for walks in local parks and watching videos together. One of their favorites is an Ethiopian television series called “Gemena,” which they download on the internet.
The Meskela family has worked together to create a better life in the U.S., but one member still remains in Ethiopia – Elias’ mother. They keep in touch over the telephone, but he has not been able to visit her in many years because only American citizens can go back to Ethiopia. Meskela became a citizen on November 2 and is saving up his vacation time to go back and visit her, hopefully next year.