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Fatima Molas

Mother, chairperson and former refugee

“My name is Fatima Molas. I am from Somalia. I’ve been in the United States since 1998. I first came to Arizona from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. I was a teenager when I came to Arizona. At the time, we were sponsored by the American Red Cross. It was very interesting because we were in an apartment full of refugees from all over the world and it was a moment of happiness to see people from all over the world who had the same common goal to provide for our families. Coming to the United States, I had so much excitement and nervousness, and overall it’s been amazing.

“Growing up in America was very challenging, because of the language barrier, the culture clash and the food differences. I remember I was eating French fries and ice cream a lot. One of my first jobs was working at McDonald’s and looking back it was funny because of the food I was eating at the time.

“After working in Arizona for a few years, I moved to Minnesota and started working in a hospital. The community here in Minnesota is one of the best communities I’ve experienced in America. In Minnesota, we have the biggest Somali population outside of the country of Somalia, which I think is great.

“Empowering refugee youth is very important to me, especially helping to get them the education and mentorship they need. They are the future and we need to take care of them properly. This country has a lot to offer our youth. If we give them a lot of education early on and provide them with a Big Brothers Big Sisters program, we would progress a lot in terms of education and integration. If young refugees have a lot of downtime or nothing to do, it can be hard for them to integrate into a new community. We have to keep them busy at all times and I am big believer in providing them with as much education and mentorship as possible.

“My family and the community I serve give me so much motivation. Coming to the United States from a refugee camp was very difficult, and it pushes me to become better as a mother and provide for my community as much as I can. To me, success means having a goal and achieving it. When you give back to your community that's the best feeling ever. Knowing where I come from just helps me be grateful for the opportunities that I have. When I see someone who is struggling even though they have been in the country for a long time, I try to give them guidance and mentor them. Everyone has challenges and tribulations, but giving others a helping hand is what makes them grow.

“America is literally the only country in the world where you can become whoever you want to become in life. If you go anywhere else in the world as a refugee, you won’t have the same opportunities that you do in America. A prime example of that is Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She also came to America from a refugee camp when she arrived here, she had nothing. Now she is serving in a leadership role in this country. This goes to show that if you dream big and have high expectations, nothing can stop you!”

Photograph of  Fatima  Molas
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