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Nasra Aden

Nasra Aden

Islamic Refugee from the Civil War in Somalia

Born: Mogadishu, Somalia
Heritage: African

Always be respectful. You cannot assume everybody is the same. Yet, we are all human. We all laugh the same way. We all cry the same way. We all have feelings. We can always respect each other. Be respectful towards others. Also, the best thing you can have to survive in the world is endcation. Because you can educate yourselft, there is nothing you can’t do in life. One thing I learned in the United States is that you can do or be anything you want to be. The sky is the limit to your goals. Never cut yourself short.

Nasra Aden

Islamic Refugee from the Civil War in Somalia

My name is Nasra Osman Aden. My date of birth is June 1, 1972. I was born and raised in the capital city of Somalia, called Mogadishu. It was a beautiful city in Somalia. Our country people describe it as bright and blue. It is on the Indian Ocean. The view is sunny with a bright blue sky. The people always tried to wear bright colors. I’m the youngest of ten—six girls and four boys. Now I’m married and have four children. Their names are Bilal, Ayub, Bushra, and Adam.

The biggest thing in my family was culture, values and religion. The number one thing was education and doing the best you can. Reach your potential and do your best. My father was a soldier. My mother was a stay-at-home mother. When there were no other children to care for at home my father made her a big shop to sell goods. I used to help her when I didn’t have homework.

My family’s religion is Islam. It is a religion of peace. There are five pillars of Islam. The first: you have to believe in God and Prophesy, Mohammed his messenger. The second: practice Ramadan where we fast for thirty days. The third is Salah: We pray five times a day—morning, noon, late in afternoon, when [the] sun sets (evening), and at night [before going] to bed.

We started learning our religion as early as five. We had another school where we use to go to study the Koran. We also learned about the hijab and why girls are different than boys. The Koran is in Arabic so we learned the Arabic language so we could understand the Koran.

Civil war broke out in Somalia when I was 18. Everything was completely changed. We stayed in Mogadishu for three days but things started getting worse and worse, so we fled. We went to the southern part of Somalia but it still wasn’t safe. There was shooting everywhere and people were killing each other.

We decided to leave Somalia and go to Kenya. My family was large and we split into two groups. We went to Kenya by boat. The boats were overcrowded with people. The boat my father, mother and three siblings were on had 1,000 people on it when it was only supposed to carry 300. As a result it sank. I lost my family who was on this boat except for my mother. It was a miracle and simply not her time to die. Even though she couldn’t swim she managed to make it to shore.

In Kenya we lived in a refugee camp for three years. It was very difficult. I was a city girl who was used to having everything I wanted and all of a sudden it was gone. There wasn’t a lot of food and clothes to wear. It was very, very tough but luckily I was old enough and I survived, but it was challenging. I met my husband Saeed in the refugee camp.

In 1993 we came to the United States. I was scared and excited at the same time. I didn’t know the culture, people or weather. But I was excited because I knew I would be safe and able to take advantage of opportunities in the U.S.

I miss my country. I would love to go back to Somalia but it is still not safe. I can’t wait to have the chance to go back and show my kids all the different places I used to play!

Notation: Download PDF

We Must Do Our Best

Honoring Nasra Aden

“Waa inaan samaynaa wixii awoodeena ah si aan u gaarno guul”

We must do our best
If we want to reach out potential
Waa inaan samaynaa wixii awoodeena
Ah si aan u gaarno guul

I was born in the capital of Somalia
Youngest of ten in a family in Mogadishu
With a mother and a father

My father was a soldier, he provided
For my brothers, sisters and mother
She would help me, I would help her.

We went to school from the age of five we studied
The Holy Book called the Quran
in my country
Five times daily
Praying toward Mecca

The water and sky so bright blue
along the ocean
I was young excited to go to college
Bad things happened
Civil War started

My family so big in two boats
we divided
At the refugee camp in Kenya I waited
For my mother, for my father

The next day my brother-in-law
came running
“Your mother survived. Your father died
in the ocean.”
Like the Titanic
Their boat flipped over!

When you have everything in life it means nothing
Until someone takes it away from you
Always be thankful, be helpful

With one telephone in camp for thousands
Waiting in line to hear from somebody
To call you, to save you

From Kenya to America I came flying
With Saeed we now have four children
Bilal and Ayub, Bushra and Adam

We all laugh and cry the same we’re all human
Yet we’re not the same, be respectful
Of each other, of your elders

Words by LARRY LONG with Lannie Segebarth’s 4th & 5th grade class of InterDistrict Downtown School
(Minneapolis, Minnesota)

© Larry Long 2006 / BMI