Her Story

Before there was ISIS, there was Al-Shabaab. The terrorist group, based in Somalia and affiliated with Al-Qaeda, has been waging war in its home country and staging terrorist attacks in other African nations since 2004. Like ISIS, it calls itself an Islamic movement, but its thousands of victims include more Muslims than any other religious group. And each time it raids a village, bombs a city square or sends gunmen to terrorize a mall, campus or compound, it leaves behind widows, orphans and homeless people.

Muhibo, a Somali refugee who recently came to Rochester with three of her children and three grandchildren, is one of those people. Al-Shabaab militants killed her husband and two of her daughters, and they effectively stole her country in the process.

Muhibo loved her life in Somalia. She loved walking to the city center each morning to open the shop where she sold garments. She loved her little house, the pictures of her favorite places that hung on the walls, the little kitchen where she would cook with her mother and daughters, the bedrooms where they would lie awake and talk. It wasn’t safe to go out after dark, but even so, it was a beautiful city in the land she loved.

After her husband and daughters were killed, Muhibo had to leave home. Her family landed in a Pakistani refugee camp before coming to the US. Although they miss their homeland, Muhibo’s family is glad to have a chance to return to school. Muhibo is learning English and American culture through Refugees Helping Refugees. Her son is training to become a mechanic, and her grandchildren now have a chance to continue their education–something they could not have afforded prior to coming here. Muhibo says that both she and her grandchildren like mathematics, and they are happy to have found a small city in which they can make a new home.