Refugee Stories

Story about Ali

After fleeing war in Somalia in 1993, Ali waited four long years in the squalid conditions of a refugee camp, eagerly anticipating the arrival of his family. His flight was punctuated with terror, illness and starvation, and he had bore witness to horrific scenes too numerous to count. He feared his family was facing similar experiences and prayed he would see them again. Thankfully, he was eventually reunited with his wife and family and granted resettlement in the United States. The family arrived in 1997 and Ali began a job at IBM, putting his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold. One day, he saw a flyer for IMAA’s Nursing Career Academy in a local Somali restaurant. He decided to begin pursuing his dream.

Ali reflects on his experience balancing school, work and family demands. “At times, I didn’t know if I would make it,” he remembers. “But my mom pushed me, my wife helped out, the entire family helped.” With their support, he was one of 8 graduates in 2008. Shortly after graduation, Ali was hired as a Patient Care Assistant at the Mayo Clinic, working with transplant patients. He has been there for nearly two years while continuing his education at Rochester Community & Technical College to become a Registered Nurse on his path to medical school one day.

Ali’s story is just one of hundreds that IMAA affects each year; those of people from around the globe. The stories share similar characteristics: being forced out of one’s home, perhaps losing it forever; resettling in a brand new country; learning a new culture, a new language, new systems and a new way of life; and the strength, resilience and courage to start over. But most of all, they share another characteristic: success. Since 1984, IMAA clients have proven that, despite the monumental obstacles that stand in their way, they too can achieve the American Dream.

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