Eritreans make up the biggest number of refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. It's a dangerous journey that has claimed many lives, and Mebrahtu wants people to understand what they're really getting into if they decide to go.
Arriving safely takes courage and luck — and money. Mebrahtu has learned this from the horror stories he has heard. One man Mebrahtu knows was kidnapped with refugees in Egypt by people who threatened not to release anyone without ransom. The man told Mebrahtu that the kidnappers took him in a car and showed him a human skull.
He escaped, and he made it back to the refugee camp in Ethiopia. That makes him one of the luckiest people not to complete the journey: Many are abandoned in the desert, or die of starvation. Women and girls are often abused.
When Mebrahtu reflects on the stories of risk and abuse that are so common, he is sad, but not necessarily surprised.
"You can't expect mercy from beasts," he says. He and his students shared their stories with JRS in April for the organization's "Artists in Motion" campaign.