Sabrina Bana Seyf – Owner of Sabrina Henna and Clothing

Mohamed Malim Refugee Stories

A life of struggle was inevitable for a woman born in the heart of Somalia, Mogadishu to be exact. My family fled to Kenya when I was only a few months old seeking refuge in a camp from the instability of Somalia. I don’t have any clear memories since I was so young but I heard enough from my family to know that it was a tough time.  Civil war tore Somalia apart and everyone who could leave, left.  I arrived in America with my family in 1996 at the age of four. I remember my difficult time with English and being accustomed to school here in America. The obstacles many refugees faced were easier for me because I grew into the American culture and atmosphere.  The absence of a culture shock for me was not the same story for my parents.


My parents grew up in Somalia, where everyone knew each other, spoke the same language, and shared the same religion. Here in America, everything they were accustomed to had changed. They suddenly dealt with the absence of family and friends, a difficult language barrier, and a religious intolerance. My parents, even with these difficult circumstances, still worked to provide for me and my siblings. My mother, a resilient woman, found a way to use her skills from Somalia to succeed here in America.  While working her other job, my mother began to sell baked goods and doing henna out of our house.  

Initially, when we started our business, it was very slow. It seemed to be a lost cause due to the lack of success but after some time, we had to relocate from our house because we had so many customers coming in and out. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), with our hard work and effort, we could open a henna store. Now open for eleven years, we have had enough success to add other locations in the Twin Cities.

Ever since I was fifteen, I’ve helped my mother with her businesses. Seeing her ambition to succeed, it was natural for me to get my business drive from her. With her pushing me and teaching me the ins and outs of the business, I used this experience to attend business school and open my own bridal shop here in Minneapolis.

With the problems that my family and I overcame, I am proud to call myself a refugee. With the successes, my family and I have had, I would tell refugees who are struggling in America or are coming here, to always believe in yourself. It’s important to fuel your desires for success with the doubts of your skeptics and simply, breakthrough


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