All too often when think of heroes, we look up to the stars not realizing that the greatest champions of our people reside on the ground in the communities where we live. Such is the case with Ato Aragie Woldemeskel and Wizero Egla Hailu, the owners of Aroma Juice Café in Silver Spring, Maryland. Their story is one of selfless service to fellow Ethiopians and sharing of their blessings to others who needed it the most.
Aragie and Egla met when they came to the United States to purse their studies in higher education. Both had plans to return to Ethiopia upon the completion of their education. However, after the fall and deposition of Haile Selassie—which left the nation in a state of total anarchy and eventual bloodshed—they made a decision to stay in the U.S. and start a family with the hopes of returning to Ethiopia once the turmoil subsided.
It eventually dawned upon them that the situation in Ethiopia was only getting worse and chose to make America their new home. However, instead of leaving Ethiopia in the rear view mirror, they imported to their adopted country the hospitality and kindness that they knew when they were in Addis Abeba. Aragie and Egla began to sponsor and support several family and friends who migrated to the U.S. upon Congresses passing the 1980 refugee act.
Their daughter Tsedey Aragie speaks fondly of the memories she had of home being more than just immediate family but a community of Ethiopians. Life in America is tough for a lot of us, the grind of daily living and keeping up with the bills isolates us from each other. Not so in the Aragie and Egla home where sharing was the norm.
“It was like growing up in Little Ethiopia, I met so many people from all different walks of life,” says Tsedey as she recalls her youth, “some came through Sudan, some who came from Addis and other parts of Ethiopia, as well as others from parts of Africa and Europe.”
Eventually, Aragie and Egla decided to open up a business and even then their aim was to succeed by making giving the priority. Upon realizing that a lot of Ethiopians were succumbing to illnesses due in large part to unhealthy diets, they launched a restaurant that focused entirely on vegetarian and vegan foods that is organic and has zero processed ingredients. They initially embraced a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle after attending a health workshop about ten years ago. This is when they first learned about corrective diets and the importance of implementing the eight natural laws of health from their Health & Lifestyle Coach Peter Carstens of Lifeline to Africa.
Their daughter Tsedey Aragie worked with Mr. Carstens and produced a reality TV show with him called the 30-day Health Challenge, a program about reversing chronic diseases by changing your lifestyle. The program highligted participants who had to transform their whole lifestyle for thirty days and showed drastic changes that they realized as a result. For Aragie and Egla, this became a life changing moment. Once they realized the benefits of what they learned from Mr. Carstens, they did what they do best, they shared what they knew to their fellow Ethiopians.
Aragie and Egla hosted a series of health workshops and lifestyle counseling sessions featuring Peter Carstens that drew close to four hundred people in the DC Metro area. It was a collective effort and a team of people volunteered their time to manage the events. From hosting health and wellness sessions, they decided to start a restaurant that carries on the work of introducing healthy eating options to their community.
Aroma Juice Café is a continuation of an effort they started a long time ago, a place where you are treated like family the minute you walk in. Aragie and Egla are a lot more than restaurateurs, they are health ambassadors who are committed to sharing their knowledge about dietary wellness and how that impacts the mind, body and spirit to their family, friends and their community writ large.
Aragie and Egla are proof that the best way to succeed in life is to serve others, share with people who have less and let compassion be our moral compass. Many have aims of being billionaires and chasing money to find happiness but the wealthiest people in the world are those who give as they are given.Kindness and sharing are the foundation of who we are #Ethiopia|ns, Aragie and Egla are proof that we can keep intact the essence of what it means to be Ethiopian and thrive in the process. Click To Tweet
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