Those who knew Dehab Teklit remember a woman whose smile would light up a room and whose positive attitude and kindness stood out. She was a fixture at New Community Extended Care Facility, working in the Housekeeping Department of the facility for about 23 years before she passed away June 19 at the age of 58.
Teklit’s daughter Fenan Hidrat said Extended Care was her mother’s second home.
“She loved it there,” Hidrat said. “She loved all of the patients.”
Teklit’s feelings about New Community showed.
“Whatever she did, she had so much pride in it and she did it with a smile, a smile that is worth a million dollars,” said Extended Care Administrator Veronica Onwunaka. “I don’t think I ever saw Dehab angry. No matter what the situation was, she had a smile.”
That attitude wasn’t limited to the workplace. Hidrat said her mother was always willing to lend a hand to her family.
“She was the backbone of our family, not only our immediate family but our entire extended family,” Hidrat said. “She was the person that everyone went to. She was just the kindest, most generous person.”
Teklit was born and raised in Eritrea, a war-torn country in East Africa. She fled the country when she was a late teen with her sister. The pair traveled on foot for two weeks from Eritrea into Sudan. They remained in Sudan for a few years before moving to Germany. Teklit met her husband there and they had Hidrat. The family immigrated to the United States when Hidrat was 6 months old.
The trio moved to the Bronx, N.Y., and Teklit and her husband worked hard to improve their situation further. They bought a house in West Orange, N.J., after they had a second daughter to provide more opportunities for their children.
“Their tremendous sacrifices are the reason why my sister and I are where we are today,” Hidrat said.
While building their life, Teklit and her husband never forgot their family members still in Eritrea. They sent money to support those who were still living in the war-torn country to help them improve their lives.
Teklit and her husband had just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in April. Hidrat said Teklit’s passing has been a huge loss to her father because she was his best friend and his everything. Hidrat is currently staying with him in West Orange.
Teklit loved being a mother to her two daughters and a grandmother to a 4-year-old girl. She also loved to cook. She always cooked for guests in her home and even prepared traditional food from Eritrea for her younger daughter’s wedding in 2017 with 200 guests.
Hidrat said Teklit was her best friend and her passing has been very difficult for her entire family.
“She would literally give you the clothes off of her back. She was so welcoming and nonjudgmental and loved everyone so unconditionally,” Hidrat said. “My mom was like my hero. She did everything for us and she loved us so much.”