Kenyan refugee camp friendship rekindled in St. Cloud

By Ibrahim Hirsi, St. Cloud Times

IbrahimHirsiIllo400The recent stream of Somali immigrants and refugees who are making their mark in St. Cloud is partly the reason Hussein Mohamud and Feisal Ali decided to live in the city.

The childhood friends who grew up in the dusty and arid Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya also picked St. Cloud to be closer to their families here — and to Minneapolis, which has a vibrant Somali-American presence and serves as the capital city for Somalis in North America.

“It’s a small place,” Ali said of St. Cloud. “Anywhere you want to go in the city is just about 10 minutes away. People really like that.”

Mohamud added: “St. Cloud is really a nice city. It’s promising for young Somalis … many kids are graduating from colleges and high schools.”

Before their arrival in St. Cloud, Mohamud and Ali spent more than two decades in Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world.

Both escaped the civil war in Somalia — which erupted in 1991 — and sought refuge in the camp, which has more than 400,000 people. They initially thought the war would end sooner and planned to return home in a matter of months.

That wasn’t the case, however.

The civil war in Somalia stretched into decades. For Ali and Mohamud, this meant living more than 20 years in dire conditions in the camp.

Continue reading at St. Cloud Times

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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