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Halimo Osman

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Description

Halimo Osman was born and grew up in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her family fled to Kenya during the Somali civil war. Her older sister was living in the United States and sponsored the family to come to the United States as refugees. Halimo has lived in Texas and Georgia and currently lives in Minnesota with her husband.

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0:05:11

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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.

Transcription

Halimo Osman Transcription
Hello, everyone. My name is Mohamed Mohamed and Halimo Osman is my wife. She originally came from Somalia. She was born and grew up in Mogadishu, which is the capital city of the country. When she was seven years old, she started to go to school. She was in school until eighth grade. She was planning to go to high school, then to a university. Unfortunately, she did not attend the university or even the high school because the civil war broke out in the country. The civil war caused a lot of death, injuries, displacement of many people including all different ages. Due to that civil war, she and her family they fled to Kenya, and they felt majorly relieved when they arrived in Kenya. They were living in Kenya refugee camps for one year and eight months. During that time, her father called her elder sister who was living in the United States and he told her their hardships. Then she started a sponsorship for them through the UNHCR. When they received immigrant visas, they travelled to the USA, and the airplane took them from Nairobi, Kenya to land in Houston, Texas. Houston was the first city that Halimo lived in in the USA. As she told me, Houston was very beautiful and it reminded her of Mogadishu.
The first time she tried to go to work, she met a very difficult situation because she did not know English. She went to work riding a bus and she wrote her address on a piece of paper to show the bus driver to ask if she’s going to that address or not. The only thing she knew was sign language, like a deaf person. So when the bus driver shakes his head that means yes, she got on the bus. She didn’t know the schedule of the buses and that day was Saturday. After she has done the work, she left the company to go home. At that time it was late. All buses stopped since they stop early on Saturdays and Sundays. Later when she was standing up for a very long time she became tired and she decided to go walking. Their home was very far, so she rode two buses to go to work. When she was walking, many people saw her. They tried to help her and give her a ride. When they stopped near her and then they started to ask her what happened, she replied: “No English. No English.” And then she kept moving and crying at the same time. That’s why a lot of people were stopping their cars to give a hand to her. The reason she was refusing help from them was that she believed they would kidnap and rape her. Then they would kill her because she heard that in the orientation which the UNHCR gave them when they were coming to the United States. Later, she entered into a gas station. She asked if the gas station worker to give a telephone for her. When she gave her a cell phone, she called her mother and her brother to tell them where she is. The mom was surprised and tried to help her, but they could not understand each other. Her brother came to the United States for school, and he knew English. Then he talked with the worker and asked the address of the gas station. Then at last they found her. I learned from this story that the most difficult problem that faces most people that the first time when they go to a foreign country is the language barrier, so I am suggesting to the people who are planning go [to] another country which is not their motherland to learn at least the basics of the prospective language as it will help them to understand with the native people and survive smoothly in the new country.