A former New York City Marathon champion–turned cabbie, Tesfaye Jifar, struggles to get his family out of strife-ridden Ethiopia

By Andy Martino (The New York Daily News) |

When Tesfaye Jifar sits still, his mind drifts to dark places. So he prefers to remain in motion. It’s easier not to think about any of it: The elite athletic career that accelerated with uncommon speed, and then ended almost as quickly. The livery cab that he now drives throughout Boston, sometimes for 16 hours a day or more. The tense situation back home in Ethiopia, where the government — trying to stifle dissent in the city where Tesfaye Jifar’s wife and children still live — declared a state of emergency last month. And most of all, the loneliness.

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Sitting in the driver’s seat of his 2007 Lincoln Town Car, Tesfaye Jifar sighs, adjusts his glasses and runs a hand through his close-cropped, salt-and-pepper hair. It’s only noon on this October Tuesday, but he has already been driving for more than eight hours. “When I go home,” he says of the bedroom in Cambridge, Mass., where he sleeps in his older brother’s house, “my family, they are not with me. I don’t like to worry, so I prefer to work. When I am here, I feel free. When I go home, I feel bad. For the country, for my family, missing them.” He stops for a moment and sighs again. “Everything.”

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