3:51 pm, Tuesday, August 21, I receive a text that reads:
"I wanted to but I don't think I will get a chance to even meet with u My Dad decided tomorrow we will be leaving to Minnesota there is no coming back"
And just like that I said goodbye to two of our reSISTERs this evening. In a flurry of last second decisions I rushed over to their apartment to enjoy one last embrace and discuss my future plans visiting them once they have settled in their new home. Inshallah was the phrase of the afternoon translating to "God (Allah) willing" or "If it's His will, this will be". And although I am neither Muslim nor religious I believe in these words and the power behind them. Inshallah, we will be reunited again and our friendship will not be lost.
It wasn't necessarily a shock. I had learned earlier this summer that their family had made a decision to move to Minneapolis after spending 5 years in Green Bay. Maryam and I had had many conversations about what this would mean for her future and her feelings of gratitude toward Green Bay and the community. This decision didn't come lightly for the family. However, after tragedy struck very close to home they needed to make a fresh start somewhere else. We can understand, even empathize with that longing to turn a new chapter and start anew.
But some of the family's resettlements haven't always been by choice. When they were forced to uproot their lives in Somalia and travel to neighboring Kenya in 1998 they were left no other choice.
Four years passed inside Kenya and Maryam's mother decided to return the family to Somalia. This time they would try a safer city, Galkayo. This time they could choose. It was a city far away from the capital and there was hope that Galkayo could be home.
After several years the family was again forced to flee their homeland back into Kenya. This time it was goodbye forever. The sisters spent 7.5 years growing up inside Kakuma refugee camp. There was no choice provided to the family when the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) finally resettled them to the United States. Families just like theirs were sent to places across the word, some to Switzerland, Sweden, or the UK.
When they arrived in New York they were reunited with other family members in Minnesota. It was March 2014 and the family made the sojourn to Green Bay where they have since made a home for themselves. Like Galkayo, there was hope that this would turn into their home. Following Kakuma, Green Bay has been their longest stop in their journey.
I wanted to share a piece of a longer poem written by Maryam titled "The Given and the Taken".
My Long journey to United States
Came to an end
Seven years, waiting for a visa to come here
I took 4 flights, and 2 and half days
Finally we landed in the greatest country
Stayed 3 months in Minnesota
Moved to Green Bay city
Which I call home now
As a family we struggled to adapt to the
New country, new home, new school and new job
I had felt down and was afraid to ask questions
But “(Alhamdulillah)” Praise be to God it went well
After long time, I adapted to this place
I was proud to call my second home
It's always sad to say goodbye. But we will see one another again, inshallah, my friends.