A Proud Father: Tigabu’s Story

Tigabu A. has an unwavering smile. He grew up in Ethiopia until he was a lucky recipient of the second annual Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (often referred to as the green card lottery) in 1996. His first destination was California, where he had some relatives waiting for him. But it didn’t feel like home to him, so he moved to Ohio and later, Vermont. But after he got sick and was admitted to the hospital for nine months, he returned to Ethiopia.

He keeps smiling, even when explaining such a long hospital stay. He recalled it with optimism explaining, “I’m always happy.”

Ultimately, he decided to come back to the United States and to join his brother in Arlington and got a job as a restaurant busboy. He and his brother shared a one-bedroom apartment until Tigabu was given the opportunity to live in one of APAH’s affordable housing apartments, Queens Court. “I love Americans. Whenever I have a problem, people help me and there’s a solution.”

With a statement like that, it is no surprise that he enjoys working with the APAH resident services team and makes it a point to never miss an APAH residents meeting.

Tigabu and his son, following Hailu’s citizenship ceremony.

In 2011, Tigabu sponsored his son Hailu, who was still living in Ethiopia with family, to come to the United States. Hailu is his father’s pride and joy; he graduated from Yorktown High School, became a naturalized U.S. citizen, and is now a computer science major at the University of Virginia.

Tigabu has made a real home for himself here in Arlington. He exercises regularly and takes advantage of the walking trails in his neighborhood. And, though he’s always enjoyed doing so, now that his son is off to college, Tigabu has more time to cook and invite his friends and neighbors over. “One of the best things about Arlington is the community I have and the friends I’ve made.”

After 15 years at Queens Court, Tigabu has found a new home at Parc Rosslyn Apartments. APAH requested that he relocate in preparation for redevelopment of the Queens Court Apartments in 2019. Tigabu was relieved when he realized that his closest friends from Queens Court were also being relocated with him to Parc Rosslyn.

“I was shocked when I saw my [new] apartment in Parc Rosslyn. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it is and that it is my home now.” And, it’s still convenient to the hotel where he’s worked for the last six years.

“I am planning on living in Arlington forever,” he says, still with a smile.