When we went to greet Mariam at the airport, we were told to expect a woman who had lived through severe difficulties and who would come with nothing but the transit center-issued clothes on her back. But we learned that night that Mariam is a woman who refuses to be defined by her circumstances.
She fled Somalia, leaving her 5 children with family and traveled through Indonesia, and Malaysia before coming to Minnesota as a refugee. To cope with the truly awful situations she lived in during her refugee journey, Mariam found a way to work nights so she could sleep during the day to avoid having to see many of the realities she lived in every day. By working every night, she was also able to save up some money and keep her spirits high.
When we went to the airport to greet Mariam, we met a confident, self-made woman who was impeccably dressed and came with her own bags and belongings. She told us right away, “You don’t have to worry about me. I’ll take care of myself.” After 6 weeks in Minnesota, she is working 2 jobs and turned down a 3rd job offer because she’s too busy. She has moved into her own apartment and is planning for the future, working to save up enough money to bring her children to Minnesota and to buy a house for her family.
Mariam exemplifies the gratitude that refugees have for the opportunity to build a life in the US. She’s a resilient and capable individual who just needed a safe place to live with dignity and hope, and she’s already well on her way to living the life she dreamed of during those long years of waiting.