To Live in Brightness

From as young as seven years old, Khadijo understood the value of giving. She grew up watching customers come in and out of the small store her family owned and noticed when some people struggled with little money. Feeling drawn to help, inspired by her reading of the Qur’an, Khadijo would take money from the store and give it to those in need. She explains, “However God blessed me, I should give.”

Unfortunately, those early, peaceful childhood days in Somalia were short-lived. Both of Khadijo’s parents died while she was young. She lived with her aunt and grandfather until she married at age sixteen and had a child. Then the civil war began, and Khadijo lost both her husband and her child. “A lot of Somali died,” she reflects. “I felt bad in life because I had no family.”

In the early 1990s, Khadijo sought refuge in Kenya. She spent more than twenty years there, during which she remarried and had children. Finally, in 2011, Khadijo started the resettlement process and moved to Minnesota in 2014.

Before she left Kenya, Khadijo underwent surgery to remove gall stones. It was difficult, and after-care was lacking. She had another surgery shortly after arriving in Minnesota. Describing her first year here, Khadijo says, “I stayed home. I didn’t know how to do anything. I was sick.” She hadn’t had any formal education in English, and says, “I was in a dark room without light.”

Khadijo wanted to be independent in her new home, and she wanted to be able to converse with native English speakers. Her pursuit led her to the English Learning Center, which she heard about from other students. This October marks Khadijo’s two year anniversary in school. Through her own hard work and faithful attendance – she hates missing even one day of school – Khadijo has advanced from a level 2 English class all the way to level 5/6, our most advanced class! She now feels confident asking questions and accomplishing everyday tasks. Because of school, Khadijo says, “I learned what I didn’t know before. Now I live in brightness.”

Today, Khadijo’s life is full, and she’s quick to count her blessings. She lives with two of her five surviving children and stays in contact with the rest of her family who is spread around the world. She started a job in home care last May. She has the freedom to practice her faith. And, gratefully, she has her health.

In the future, Khadijo hopes to graduate from the English Learning Center, earn her GED, and find a good job – maybe as an office manager. She wants to make money, and just like the seven-year-old version of herself, she wants to use that money to help other people. Khadijo still believes that the good you get should be given back.