“I figured why not build such an application and make it available for users worldwide, free of charge?!” Beruk Habte
As the sweeping waves of COVID-19 continue many are contributing in ways they best can to make an impact in the global fight against the deadly virus. We talk today to a young Eritrean who has developed an Android application with several features to help track and ease infections. Beruk Habte lives in Virginia, USA, and is the brains behind Tracker, the COVID-19 tracking app. Like Beruk, other young Eritreans too, are customizing a tracker application that is locally applicable. Eritrea Profile will track them for future publication.
- So proud of you. Q&A is talking to…
My name is Beruk Habte. Thank you for having me. I am 25 years old. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Information System. I’m also the developer of a phone application called‘Tracker.’
- What is Tracker? Can you tell us about it?
Tracker is the name of the Android application I developed in the advent of the Corona pandemic. It’s currently available on Android devices worldwide. It’s an application that notifies users if they’ve been in contact with another user of the application who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the span of the preceding fourteen days.
- How does it work?
It’s all done via an anonymous location tracking method. For instance, if you and I were together today, and I was perfectly fine, but a few days later I tested positive for the COVID-19, I would register my symptom on the application. The application would then notify everyone I was in contact with in the last 14 days- including you – because we were together a few days ago. That way people can track their own activities and pay due attention based on it.
- What urged the idea of developing such an app?
While thinking about developing an app and eventually d e v e l o p i n g Tracker, I had one motivation –to help as many people as I can worldwide. Although Corona virus has no known cure at this moment, I believe it is nothing we can’t get through together. Given my background and my passion, I figured why not build such an application and make it available for users worldwide and free of charge. I’ve done that, and I’m glad I’ve been able to contribute to the world.
- And the reaction from the general public has been good, hasn’t it?
Yes it has. Tracker has a 4.9/5 rating in Google Play Store. Hundreds of people have appreciated me for what I’ve been able to do… And that feels extremely gratifying.
- Tracker is not the first application you’ve ever developed. Were there any before?
This is my passion, so Tracker is not a first experience. I’ve developed other applications in the past. The last one before Tracker is called Pairr. It’s a dating app that caters to colleges or universities. It’s available on the iOS, and it provides harmless service to students who are looking to meet others in order to socialize and do things of that nature. There are many other dating apps. However, mine is the only one that caters to colleges and universities.
- You were born in Ethiopia and you made your way to Eritrea alongside thousands of Eritreans who were unjustly deported from Ethiopia in the 1990s. Having spent most of your childhood in Eritrea before you left for the USA,What are your recollections of home?
That’s correct and I remember Eritrea like the back of my hand. I always tell my friends, here, in the USA, they didn’t have a proper childhood unless they grew up in Eritrea. I don’t remember having to worry about anything other than having a great time with friends and family until it was time to do some school work. Here, in the States, parents don’t feel comfortable letting their kids play outside because many things such as kidnapping can happen. As an Eritrean child, living in a country whose people are kind, loving and caring for one another, I don’t remember having to be afraid of a single thing.
My friends here can only imagine how wonderful it is when I tell them you can be in the middle of a busy place in Asmara, count your money, leave your belonging behind- be it a phone, jewelry or anything else of value – and be able to retrieve it because nobody would steal them. And that goes out to show how loyal and wonderful the citizens of Eritrea are. I really don’t think you can do that in any other country besides Eritrea. I miss and cherish Asmara a lot and so I do my best to go back whenever I can. In fact, I recently had a wonderful chanceto visit our beautiful Asmara during the summer of 2019.
I was there for about six weeks and I had a great time. The only thing I regret is not making my trip longer. I had the best time walking around the beautiful city of Asmara, visiting its authentic cafes, swimming in the beautiful waters of Massawa, all while meeting amazing new people and spending time with friends and family. I’m very much looking forward to going back.
- You’ve certainly contributed a great deal during these timeswhen people really need to look out for one another. You might have something you want to say to people around you and your people back home.
These days call for strength and unity. Thus, it is our humanitarian duty to extend a caring hand however best we can. As regards to the people of Eritrea, I can say that the people are very strong and that’s already been proven. You have no clue how amazing it feels when I tell people here that my country had a few cases of COVID-19, with no fatalities. That just adds to my list as to why we Eritreans should be proud.
- Can you share your future plans with us? Do they include coming back to Eritrea?
I have plans to comeback to Eritrea. This time, I’m going to make sure I bring my friends from America so that I can brag and show them where my people and myself are from and how relaxing and stress-lessour country is.
- Thank you!