By Abdi Sabrie, Engage Minnesota
I came to America in 1982 and resided in Washington DC and immediately joined Somali opposition groups to the then Somali dictator, later helped found the Organization for Somali Affairs (OSA), which helped new Somalis with immigration and integration issues, in this role, I have worked with many agencies that were serving immigrants such Catholic Charities, ACLU and many private Law Firms.
In 1992, I volunteered to work for the United States Department of Defense, to serve with US Armed forces in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope & Continue Hope), as a Linguist/Consultant, to help alleviate hunger and bring peace to Somalia. I served there under extreme combat conditions like the Black Hawk Down until the end of operations in 1994, in this capacity I have conducted cultural classes for all officers to be sensitive and efficient in their leadership roles, advised the operation command center before any major operations, and attended daily commanders meeting.
In 1995, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where I became a technical Representative for Canon products in down town Atlanta, I was always involved there in serving immigrants adapt to the American Way of life.
In 2009, I moved to Mankato, MN with my wife Lul Omar and our six children( now seven), after we learned from doctors that our two youngest daughters will not be able to continue living in Atlanta, because of respiratory problems with the polluted air in Atlanta. We first moved to Eagle Lake, MN where my daughter became the first Somali student at Eagle Lake Elementary school.
I later helped found the African Family and Education Center (AFEC), a nonprofit that mainly helps Somali and Sudanese refugees in Greater Mankato with integration issues through education and became the executive director, this position is a volunteer unpaid position which I still hold currently.
By Ibrahim Hirsi, St. Cloud Times
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.
Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.
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