Meet Selamawit Sium, Ministry of Agriculture Employee of the Year 2019. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Hamelmalo C o l l e g e o f Agriculture, she has been working with animals, an occupation not many Eritrean females go for. Currently working at the Horse Breeding Center in Vilajo, Selamawit is responsible for the Artificial Insemination (AI), feeding, hygiene and wellbeing of horses, which she also rides. This dedicated young Eritrean also followed a childhood hobby and turned it into another profession. Starting with drawing on a piece of paper, Selamawit managed to get designing lessons and is now a designer and a designing teacher.
- Selamawit, would you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I was born in Assab and did my elementary education there. My family moved to Asmara in 2000 and I continued my education in the city. Later in 2005, I went to Sawa with my fellow students, where I took my military training, completed my 12th grade education and took my National Matriculation Examination. I joined Hamelmalo College of Agriculture and got my degree in Animal Science.
When I was just a kid, I had other hobbies for which I still have passion. I used to enjoy drawing and writing short stories. I also used to try my hands on writing poems. Even though I grew up in the city, where there are cats and dogs, I have always loved to see other domestic animals around me. But I have never imagined being in a profession that allows you to work closely with animals.
- Where did your profession lead you after your graduation?
I was first assigned to work at the Meat, Hide and Skin Development Unit, Ministry of Agriculture. I was working at the Rabbit and Swine Breeding Center as an animal science expert. To be honest, I didn’t like rabbits before I started working at the center. But at the center, I found out that the rabbit is an adorable animal. It is one of the animals which we can easily breed and take care of. Working there, I also got the chance to work with pigs. Through the guidance and knowledge I got from my administrators and coworkers, I was able to breed and look after the wellbeing and hygiene of those two animals closely.
Besides, working at the department has enabled me to gain other experiences. Over the years, I learned how to prepare rabbits for food, a job traditionally done by men. When the people who prepare the rabbits for food aren’t around, I am the one who does it for the customers. In addition, I have learned various ways of cooking rabbits.
Currently, I am working at the Horse Breeding Center at Vilajo as an animal science expert. I am in charge of looking after the horses including feeding and breeding. Recently, I have been working on breeding the Shagya Arabia horses, which came from Hungary, with the local female horses through Artificial Insemination.
- Can this profession be challenging for females?
I don’t believe that anything is impossible. Will is all that counts. This profession can be difficult but I started it all with confidence. I read more about the field because I wanted to get deeper into it. At the beginning, there was a Cuban doctor, Dr. Gorge. Language was a barrier with Dr. George, but I had to do my best to understand him; I listened to him and watched him doing the job very closely. I was practicing a lot and asked for his help during my exercises which helped me do well in understanding the profession. I sometimes used to ask him to let me do the job myself, thinking it would be like an exam for me. Breeding is unique and something special for me. It is a field that requires skills and patience. After collecting the sperms, the lab work is another section that requires persistence. Now I am the only one at the place where Dr. George was working. It makes me happy and proud to see positive results after all the work I did through Artificial Insemination. I am now waiting to see the horses deliver.
- Would you please tell us some of the benefits of AI?
As the number of horses in Eritrea is decreasing and their size is small, The Ministry of Agriculture imported bigger and taller horses to enhance the quality of our local breed through Artificial Insemination.
Benefits can be:
The Semen Extender we use contains antibodies that reduce the risk of transmitting various diseases that can be caused through natural mating.
It increases the probability of conceiving for the horses with ovary irritation.
It reduces the accidents that might occur from an angry horse during mating.
Horses that might endure infection through accidents or that are naturally perianal are able to breed safely.
- You also have another profession…
My drawing inspired me to take designing lessons. I was one of the students who did well so I went back to the school as a designing teacher. That is a second profession that I respect.
- At last…
I would like to thank all my administrators and coworkers for guiding me through in this profession. I also would like to pass on my heart felt gratitude to all my family and friends for supporting me in anyway throughout the years.
Again, there is something I would like to say to my fellow Eritrean females; let’s all start by accepting ourselves as females first. We all have dreams and visions; let’s give credit to the smallest things and we can get to where we want. Also, l e t ’ s all prevent ourselves from emotional responses. I want to tell all girls that I love them and I am always fascinated by their power and nature. Thank you.