Muhubo’s Journey

Muhubo has no memory of Somalia. She was just one year old when her grandmother fled with her to Ethiopia, escaping a brutal civil war.

Muhubo’s parents stayed behind, hoping to send word when peace returned. But word never came. Sixteen years passed, during which Muhubo was raised by her grandmother in a refugee camp.

At sixteen, Muhubo’s grandmother died, and she was resettled in the United States soon after. She made the journey alone, arriving in Portland, Oregon to live with a cousin she had never met. The transition was a difficult one. She says, “I cried every night. I was very scared.” For the first five months, Muhubo was sick because she had an allergic reaction to shots she received during her mandatory refugee medical check. In addition to swelling and frequent headaches, Muhubo explains, “I spoke no English and didn’t understand the food, drink, bathroom, nothing!”

After her first year in the United States, Muhubo started to feel more comfortable. She moved to Minnesota in 2012, wanting to be near a large Somali community, and immediately focused on work. She needed to send money to her mother, grandfather, and six siblings, who had eventually landed in Ethiopia. During this time, she also married and had a son and daughter.

Although Muhubo had heard there were schools to learn English, it took a few years before she had time to attend. When she enrolled at the English Learning Center in 2015, she was both excited and a little scared. This was the first school Muhubo ever attended in her life. Her fears, however, didn’t last long. She says, “This school has good, good people. I felt so happy when I came.” Since that first day, Muhubo has been a dedicated and quick learner. She’s advanced from English level 2 all the way to level 5/6, our most advanced class! She teases, “If you don’t work hard to learn English, stay home and sleep.”

Looking forward, Muhubo has several goals for the future. She continues to work, now at a childcare center, and send money to support her family in Ethiopia. Someday, she hopes they can join her here in Minnesota. She recently applied for her citizenship test and hopes that becoming a citizen will speed the process along. Beyond that, Muhubo wants first to finish all the levels at the English Learning Center and then go to college. She’s keeping her career options open, joking, “I like driving. Maybe I’ll be a semi-truck driver!” Truck driver or not, she’s bound to go far.