Traveling Mother and Son Duo Pen Children’s Book About Their Homeland, Eritrea

Deborah Haile is originally from Eritrea, grew up in Minnesota and now lives in miami. A busy mother, she enjoys traveling the world with her nine-year-old son, Jonah Seyum. Together, Deborah and Jonah are bestselling authors and the CEOs of Tiny Global Footprints, through which they have now published three co-authored books and two solely written by Jonah.

A fourth-grade student who enjoys sports, reading, dating and video games, Jonah has traveled to 11 countries. He is now also an award-winning author and the youngest published Eritrean author. Deborah and Jonah were inspired to start writing stories by the many questions they would receive regarding their travels.

“People were like, ‘How can you do this? Isn’t traveling with a child, especially international travel, difficult? Isn’t it expensive? Where should I take my child? What places do you recommend?’ and so on,” says Deborah.

“To help answer these questions and give a taste of the fun of traveling abroad with a child, Jonah and I decided to write a book about one of our trips from Jonah’s perspective. ”

Photo courtesy of Tiny Global Footprints

Photo courtesy of Tiny Global Footprints

The mother-son duo have written their first book, The search for elephants in Thailandin 2019 after their trip to land of smiles.

“It was such an amazing experience that we had to share our story so that other families could go see the world with their children. It was well received (and we had fun writing it!), which helped gave rise to more and more books as we traveled to more and more countries.”

Deborah and Jonah bring back a story from each of the countries they visit and share it through their books, allowing children to get a taste of the places they have visited. In their stories, Deborah and Jonah share their passion and adventures, providing kid-friendly learning exercises in hopes of inspiring other children (and adults) to go on their own adventures.

“Traveling the world is the best classroom you can find – it sparks curiosity and learning becomes an adventure instead of a chore. For every trip we take, Jonah learns to count, to say hello and speak basic phrases in a new language.Travel stretches their minds, develops their brains, and reminds children that they are part of something much bigger in the world.

In 2020 Deborah and Jonah released their second book, Find my Amigo in Cuba. Jonah has written his two solo books, Basketball or Football? and What does dad do all day? in 2021 and 2022 respectively. This year, Deborah and Jonah collaborated to write their third travel diary, Fill my pockets with Nakfa in Eritrea, after spending the holidays in the country and introducing the new year there. Nakfa is the currency of Eritreanamed after the city which was the first major victory of the Eritrean War of Independence.

“The inspiration for the story was the trips Jonah and I have taken to Eritrea over the past few years and to introduce Eritrean culture and history to children from all walks of life. We wanted to share a beautiful part of Africa , sharing the story of Eritrea’s independence, and opening children’s minds to the story that brought their family to the present. Jonah learns all of this (and more!) from the story, which will help also other children to better understand the history, the culture and, above all, the family values ​​of Africa.”

Their last trip to Eritrea was Jonah’s fourth visit to the country, and it was very special for him. He enjoyed spending time with his family and playing outside with the neighborhood kids until the lights came on at night. One of the most peaceful and safest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, it is normal for children in Eritrea to play outside with their neighbors until dark.

“These are the experiences and memories that will live with Jonah all his life and will motivate him to keep visiting Eritrea and learning new things each time. Having heard about Eritrea from me, dad and other family members since birth, he is able to put it into perspective when he can actually see and experience the country on his own, learn more about words and phrases, try new foods, get together longer with his family in person and dance to the Eritrean music he loves.

A northeastern African country on the Red Sea coast, Eritrea shares borders with Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti. Boasting Art Deco structures and Italian colonial buildings such as St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the capital, Asmara, is known as Africa’s “Little Rome”.

One of Africa’s hidden gems, Deborah thinks everyone should add Eritrea to their bucket list and says there are lots of great things to do, see and experience there. In addition to the magnificent St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Asmara, she recommends visiting:

  • Fiat Taglierothe most iconic building and a futuristic-style gas station resembling an airplane, built in 1938 by Italian engineer Giuseppe Pettazi in Asmara.

  • Medeber marketa one-stop market famous for turning useless items such as metal oil cans into useful ones such as kitchen pans,

  • Cinema Impero and Cinema Romatwo former Italian cinemas fully functional today with the most amazing Italian cafes inside.

  • Saint Mariam Churcha large and beautiful orthodox church from 1938 known to be very different from all other churches in Asmara.

For dining in Asmara, Deborah’s favorite spots are Silver Star, which offers seafood, African and Italian dishes, and Spaghetti House, home of the best Italian cuisine. Other must-see towns she recommends visiting in Eritrea are Massawa and Green Island, Keren, Dekemhare, Mendefera and Qohaito.

Deborah and Jonah are currently preparing the second season of their podcast, Global Footprint Stories. They’re also working on the next book in Jonah’s Global Footprints series and thinking about which countries to visit in 2023 as they continue their world tour. Jonah looks forward to writing new books and hopes to inspire other children to follow in his footsteps. For more information, visit www.tinyglobalfootprints.com and follow instagram and Facebook.

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