Mohamed Malim - Founder of Dream Refugee

I am motivated by my own struggles to find peace and safety in America.  I want to help others find their own path to success.  I want everyone to accomplish their dream.  I am a refugee.  With that being said, here is my story.

Many of us living in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, have probably never experienced the challenges and trauma that stem from the disaster of a civil war. We often find ourselves trying to understand but are not fully able to comprehend the refugee experience, but I have lived this life and I’m grateful for the lessons it has taught me as a Somali-American.  I have confronted and conquered the difficult realities of becoming an American. As a child, I lived in a refugee camp in Kenya.  My family and I were paired with thousands of starving, desperate people in the largest refugee complex in the world. To the world it was a refugee camp, to us it was home.  Located in the small town of  Kenya, basic necessities such as clean running water, food, medications, proper schooling and a future seemed so out of reach.  

At the age of three, I had a harsh realization that when it comes to war, mercy doesn’t exist. Nights of starvation, fear and hopelessness were the everlasting theme. Many of my memories came from the stories my mother told me, as I was too young to recollect most of these incidents. My mother still remembers the cries of babies who were starving to death and the agony of not being able to help them. She had to care for me and my brother with barely any necessities available. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. My mother would sometimes go out in the middle of the night, amidst the chaos of the refugee camp, to find food for our family, sacrificing her safety, only so that we would have enough to make it through the night and see another day—often times repeating the process as if it were ritual.  Looking back at this unreal experience, I had to ask myself how can I help people just like me overcome the challenges of coming to America after going through things that most people see on TV or movie screens?

We thought that after coming to America everything in life would be so easy, we thought we would be rewarded for all the hardships we endured but we were wrong. Although life here is great, life in America came with a new set of problems that we had to face. Learning a new language, feeling isolated around so many people, not fitting in, not knowing our way around just to name a few. Yet again, my parents learned a new language (at least enough to get us where we needed to be), found jobs and a home where they could raise us. It is amazing how this is the story of so many refugees just like me and my family who remained resilient when the odds were against them.  

My families obstacles have taught me to always believe in my dreams and to never give up. My mother’s dream was for my siblings and I to obtain a proper education, a roof over our heads and never to worry about food on our plates. It means everything in the world that my mother’s dream is now a reality. I was the first in my family to graduate high school, pursue a college education, be accepted into a prestigious private school and to participate in collegiate athletics. My mother’s struggle and resilience has led me onto a path of continuously trying to help others, to live my dreams for all those who couldn’t live theirs; never forgetting them. I’m inspired to keep moving forward and trying to become a better person for my family, those unfortunately left behind, and my community whose stories are almost the same as mine. My mother constantly reminds me, “We are one of the lucky ones that were able to achieve our dreams.”

Thus, the spawning of the non-profit Dream Refugee. Please follow our stories and learn from our website and social media outlets. Thank you for opening your hearts and minds to hear the dreams of my fellow refugees who are grateful to have started a better life, who would like to spread their stories to educate the rest of America on their individual paths and success.

Felicia Philibert