A Remarkable Journey

We recently shared a fairly in-depth introduction to our Intensive Case Management (ICM) program on our blog. This program helps families with complex medical or mental health concerns to help them make a real connection with medical providers and help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to manage their own health in the long term.  This includes things like scheduling appointments, understanding what their providers are advocating, and following up with medications and insurance. You can read more about it in our previous blog post here.

We wanted to share the story of another special family who has been a part of our ICM program. They have faced incredible hardship and their story is ongoing, but we have been so inspired by their resilience, devotion, and love.

The Abdi family includes a mother and her three adult children—two sons and a daughter. They fled from Somalia to Ethiopia during the war and were originally resettled in Pennsylvania. They were not finding the kind of care and support they needed for the eldest son, Ahmed, so they came to Minnesota.

After witnessing and personally experiencing incredible trauma and violence in Somalia, Ahmed fell into a trauma-induced catatonia. He was unable to move, interact, or care for himself at all. He could barely open his eyes and required complete care.  Because he’s an adult, but is unable to move, Ahmed’s mother and siblings had to drag him with them as they traveled, first to Ethiopia, then to Pennsylvania, and then to Minnesota. They took buses across the US to Minnesota and arrived without a place to stay upon their arrival in the Twin Cities. They found themselves at a homeless shelter in Minneapolis. We met this incredible and resilient family when they brought Ahmed into our office lobby, asking for help.

MCC Refugee Services’ full line of programs truly came around this family to provide support. We helped them find housing and their younger son found employment working with one of our employment counselors. Sara, our ICM Team Manager, worked closely with the family to help them find medical providers for Ahmed and provide some respite care assistance for his family members who provide his round-the-clock care.  Refugee Services staff also helped the family apply for SSI income to help support Ahmed. His application was initially denied and reviewers thought that he was “faking” his catatonic state. Sara and other staff worked through the appeals process, even writing letters to Senator Amy Klobuchar, until his case was finally approved.

Ahmed remains unable to communicate or care for himself, but the family has noticed some improvement in his condition. Trauma-induced catatonia like Ahmed’s is not very common or well-understood, so they don’t know what to expect for Ahmed in the long term.

Even so, we see so many successes and strengths in this family and are so grateful that our full complement of programs was able to come around the Abdi family. Surely, this family has incredible strength and resilience, and their devoted love and care for Ahmed is inspiring. It is wonderful to see them housed, working, and finding care for Ahmed and balance for his family members. We hope along with them with them that Ahmed continues to improve each day as he lives in safety.

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