Refugee Stories

Ayan Abukar- Founder, Executive director and Former Refugee

Ayan Abukar- Founder, Executive director and Former Refugee

My name is Ayan Abukar. I am originally from Ethiopia. Due to civil unrest, I was forced to relocate to refugee camps in Kenya, Africa where I first served as an advocate supporting my fellow community members in the camp. In 1998, I was part of the first East African groups to immigrate to the United States and I continued my passion to help others with my work in Minnesota social service and business circles. I understands the needs of immigrant families and became aware of the gaps present in the current system. I gained experience working with Minnesota resettlement programs, the Southeast Asian...

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Michael Yang- Southeast Asian Community Specialist, and Former Refugee

Michael Yang- Southeast Asian Community Specialist,  and Former Refugee

My name is Michael Yang. My name Michael was given to me during my baptism. I became Roman Catholic when my family arrived here in 1979. Originally I’m from Laos, I’m Hmong. Hmong is one of the ethnic groups in Laos, and during the Vietnam War, the Hmong were recruited by the United States to fight in a secret army in the place of American troops, because Laos was a neutral country. And no foreign government can send troops into Laos. So during the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese were bypassing Laos to reinforce their troops in the South to...

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Khain Adam - Psychotherapist, Community Health Specialist and Former Refugee

Khain Adam - Psychotherapist, Community Health Specialist and Former Refugee

Despite my lonesome arrival upon the soil of this great country without the support of a tribe, secure knowledge of English or understanding of cultural norms, and knowing how to navigate the system, I managed to make the most of opportunities and create some of my own on my way to becoming the person I am today. A refugee resettlement agency helped me during my first three months in Dallas, Texas. Texas was a tough place and far from my relatives and friends. I couldn’t see myself succeeding in Dallas, so I moved to Richmond, VA where I found a...

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Mohamed Abdulkadir- Community Leader, Advisor, and Former Refugee

Mohamed Abdulkadir- Community Leader, Advisor, and Former Refugee

My name is Mohamed Abdulkadir , I came from Somalia. I came here 1994. The reason I came here was the civil war happening in my country. That civil war was so bad that we could not stay in our homes, so we fled to neighboring country Kenya. I was there for almost 3 years when I got the opportunity to come to the U.S. It was strange. I didn’t know what to expect when we arrived. There were people waiting for us at the airport, and they took us in a huge bus, we were about 21 people together....

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Obsa Hassan- Founder, Activist, and Former Refugee

Obsa Hassan- Founder, Activist, and Former Refugee

My name is Obsa Hassan, a father of two boys and married to Aisha Oromia Ali. I first came to the US in 1999 from Oromia, one of the nine states in Ethiopia. I came through Kenya with family members and settled in Columbia Heights, a suburb of Minneapolis. I started out from 10th grade here and graduated from high school in 2002 and went onto University of Minnesota. It was a cultural shock for me. When we first moved from Oromia to Kenya, at least the Borana Oromos of Kenya spoke my native tongue Oromo which is widely spoken...

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