Forced to Flee: Abdifitah's Story

My name is Abdifitah and I'm a Somali man. I live in Utah, Salt Lake City. My wife came here seven years before myself, my daughter, and step-daughter. We had to run and she ended up in Europe. I took our daughters to Uganda. I am loving Utah because she is here and I am here.

Somalia is my country. I grew up in Somalia. I stayed in school through high school. I married in Somalia and I got my daughter in Somalia, my firstborn. It's a good country.

In Somalia I had my mom and my dad and many relatives. Every Eid they bought me clothes. I miss them. My mom passed away. And also my father. Now I have my wife and daughters, I am happy with them, I'm a father and I'm here to build my daughters lives. 

Before we left Somalia I was a cook and I had a small taxi business.

When we went to Uganda we lived in a regular home, not a camp. My daughters went to school and I worked. Catholic Community Services (CCS) helped my wife come and later helped me and our kids.

CCS sent me to school for 3 months and I started online classes in order to perfect my English. They enrolled my daughters in school and helped me with the Department of Workforce Services. They help me with appointments, food, and give me many other things I need. When I wanted to get my commercial driver’s license, I didn't know how to go to the DMV. I didn’t know how to apply, and the CCS, especially Mohamud, helped me. I think it has been 2 years that he has been by my side. He tells me anything I need. Even if he's not working, he helps me. 

It helped me to feel less pressure. I was happy.

When I got to Utah I passed the driving test in English and I took job readiness classes through CCS. They helped me submit applications and eventually find my job at Allied Electronics. I build letters for signs that go in front of businesses. It is a nice job but I can do more. It is not enough for my future.

I would love to own my own business again. When you are an employee sometimes it is not good, but with your own business you feel better. I would like to own a business again, and be a driver. But, it is difficult to build it here.

Mohamud: When Abdifitah started his new job, and the new job had few different departments, he wanted to try every department and get experience from those different departments. He learned everything from those departments and then he came back to my office, and said, “I learned everything from this employer. I need a new challenge and I decided to get a CDL license so I can open my trucking business down the road.” So he started working on that project, and we submitted an application at the DMV, and he got his learner's permit. He passed all the three tests, plus the DOT medical card and everything so the physical card and now we are in the process of getting funds from the AWS that pays his actual CDL driving school. It is a few thousand dollars. We are expecting to get that funding approved. Hopefully, next week or the week after. We have finished all the requirements and the verifications they have asked for. He is in the front runner to get that funds approved.

CCS also helped me reunite with my wife.  She was a client first, and then they worked for years to bring us back together.

Mohamud: Yes she came from Europe through CCS and Abdifitah and the kids came from Africa through CCS. We loved being a part of this great reunion. They're a great family. She's a great woman, and she never rested until she got her family here. 

CCS gave us a lot. When I arrived in Utah, my first night, they came to the airport and brought me here, to my home. And they came again in the morning. When I got here, I was like a blind man and they opened my eyes.

Learn more about the Job Development Team within CCS' Refugee Resettlement program here.

Abdifitah's story was written in collaboration with Their Story is Our Story. Story edited by Their Story is Our Story's Nicole Taylor. Learn more about Their Story is Our Story here.