THE bright lights of professional soccer seemed a world away for Mehari Tesema and Samuel Tesfagabr as they spent eight months in a cramped Kenyan refugee camp, surrounded by disease and poverty.
Tesema, Tesfagabr and nine of their Eritrean teammates had fled from team officials while playing in an international tournament in 2009 in a bid to escape the dictatorship in their homeland.
After hiding for 10 days in Nairobi, the group moved to a refugee camp 800km from the capital with thousands of asylum seekers from across Africa.
“That was the worst place,” Tesema, now 28, recalls.
“There was no lights, no electricity and just a little bit of food.