Dream Refugee and Epimonia founder, Somali refugee and 2018-2019 Outstanding Refugee Award recipient
“Many of us living in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, have probably never experienced the challenges and trauma that stem from the disaster of a civil war. We often find ourselves trying to understand but are not fully able to comprehend the refugee experience, but I have lived this life and I’m grateful for the lessons it has taught me as a Somali-American.
“As a child, I lived in a refugee camp in Kenya. My family and I were among thousands of starving, desperate people in the largest refugee complex in the world. To the world it was a refugee camp, to us it was home. Located in a small town in Kenya, necessities such as clean running water, food, medications, proper schooling and a future seemed so out of reach. Nights of starvation, fear and hopelessness were the everlasting theme.
“Many of my memories came from the stories my mother told me, as I was too young to recollect most of these incidents. My mother still remembers the cries of babies who were starving to death, and the agony of not being able to help them. We thought that after coming to America, everything in life would be so easy; we thought we would be rewarded for all the hardships we endured. But we were wrong.
“Although life here is great, life in America came with a new set of problems that we had to face. Learning a new language, feeling isolated around so many people, not fitting in, not knowing our way around, just to name a few. Still, my parents learned a new language (at least enough to get us where we needed to be), found jobs and found a home where they could raise us.
“It is amazing how this is the story of so many refugees just like my family who remained resilient when the odds were against them. My family’s obstacles have taught me to always believe in my dreams and to never give up. I am motivated by my own struggles to find peace and safety in America. I want to help others find their own path to success. I want everyone to accomplish their dream.”