Abdikadir, now in his mid-40s, fled on his own to Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya from Somalia when he was a young teenager, after his parents and sister had been killed. Over the years he found employment with NGOs and learned English. With his dedication to improving his English and his own life, he became a leader in his section of the camp. He teaches both English and reconciliation skills to the diverse people who find their way to Dadaab.
He met and married Asho in the camp, and they have six sons, the youngest, Ayub, born just this spring. All are healthy and doing well. The older boys are in school and Zakaria, the eldest, is a strong student aiming to become a neurosurgeon. His grandparents, killed in Somalia, were educated journalists. His father, Abdikadir, is a community leader with hopes of training as a human rights lawyer once the family has come to Canada. Zakaria’s plans are not unrealistic, given his family background. They just require the opportunity to move to the land of his dreams.
Life in Dadaab presents innumerable challenges, from food uncertainty to the uncertainty of the future of the camp itself. Last year the Kenyan government and the UNHCR agreed to a blueprint calling for the dissolution of the camp as early as this June. Abdikadir reports that they have not heard of an official agreement, but that he thinks there is a gentleman´s agreement between the government and UNHCR. Living under this kind of unpredictability clearly adds to the stress of being a refugee in the first place.
And of course, if you’d like to donate to the Refugee Settlement Committee to maintain optimism that we will welcome Abdikadir and his family as soon as possible, please go to canadahelps.org.