Her Story

Khadija misses many things about Africa: the fresh bananas and coconuts her family raised on their farm in Somalia, the walks to market to buy fish and meat, the times she spent talking with family members, many of whom she left behind when she came to the United States 10 years ago. Khadija was so young when her family fled Somalia that she didn’t even understand why they were leaving.

They spent 14 years in Kenyan refugee camps, and it was during this time that she learned about the civil wars in her home country. Rebels overthrew the government in 1991, and it took more than 20 years for the country to establish a new, permanent government. The country is still home to the Al-Shabaab terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

One thing Khadija does like about her home in Rochester is that she finally has a room of her own. Khadija has 10 children, the first four of whom were born in refugee camps, where her family lived together in a single room.

“Yes, I’m happy now!” she says of her new living arrangement. “That was no fun.