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Roda Yussuf

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Roda Yussuf was born in Somalia in 1988 and lived there until 1997. She lived in Ethiopia from 1997-2011. In 2009, she was authorized for resettlement to the United States and she flew to the U.S. on December 7, 2011 with her daughter Muna and her sister Rahma. She lived in Cactus, TX, where she worked in a meat plant. She moved to Minneapolis on June 20, 2014. [Note: In her video, Roda says that she came to the U.S. in 2011.]

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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“Lost Luggage, New Life: Roda’s Story“
My name is Roda Yussuf. I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1988. I grew up in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. I got resettlement in 2009 and I fly to America on December 7, 2011. When I landed in New York, I was ready to collect my suitcase. Unfortunately, I lost my one of my suitcases.
I searched for a few minutes but it was not found. I started to register with the staff in the airport. They asked me what it looked like and what was inside the suitcase. They said do you know what color and how many pounds it is.
I told them there were pictures in the suitcase. The most important thing was my picture album. I told them that they could recognize me in the pictures. The album had my girl’s picture and my friend Barwaqo’s picture. There were also some cultural clothes in the suitcase. I really felt sad at that time.
After that, the woman who was leading me said “Let us take the bus.” At that time, I was with my little girl and my sister Rahma. When we were reached the train station, the woman said to us “Enter the train.” I asked myself “What is this? Is this is station or a house? I was confused. I had never seen a train before. We got rest one night in a New York hotel. Then we took a flight to Amarillo, Texas.
After nine months, I started work at a meat company in Cactus [Texas]. It was hard and freezing. I worked with my knife eight hours standing in line. Also I worried about my children and how to take care of them. But I calmed down when I got my first check. It covered my basic needs. I felt happy because if the person is not working he or she has a lot of problems.
One day, I decided to move into Minnesota because life is better there than Texas. Now, I have work and school thanks to the government because they play a big role in my life. Now my responsibility is to continue my life, education, and work to get a better life in the future.
I think about that suitcase when I go home because my daughter’s picture was in there. She is my first baby so I like her picture. I miss all the Somali cultural clothes that were in there. I miss the injera pan I had with me. In Somali, it is called dawa. All that was lost.
Since I have been in America I have taken new photos of my daughter. I found Somali clothes like hijab, diirac, dress. I have a new pan to make dawa. I feel ok about this but, if I go back to Somalia, I will get those things again and I bring back to Minnesota. This is important to me because I want to support and keep our culture.