'She's made us proud': Ilhan Omar's journey from Kenyan refugee camp to US Congress

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'She's made us proud': Ilhan Omar's journey from Kenyan refugee camp to US Congress

Former neighbours of Ilhan Omar at the camp are celebrating the Somali’s election victory


Ilhan Omar, elected to Congress for the Democrats, arrives for her victory party in Minneapolis on 6 November. Photograph: Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images

Fadumo Kuusow remembers a thin and shy girl who lived next door. Her memory is hazy as the girl left more than 20 years ago.

Last week Kuusow organised a small celebration with friends in Ifo camp, one of a vast complex of refugee settlements on dry, scrubby plains around the remote Kenyan town of Dadaab. Eight thousand miles away that thin, shy girl – now 37 – had just become the member elect of the US House of Representatives for Minnesota’s fifth district.

Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, will assume office in January, sharing the historic distinction with Rashida Tlaib of being the first Muslim women elected to the US Congress.

“The women here talked about her. I remember in the hot weather afternoon, Ilhan and I used to play jumping rope near our homes. My family lived in a tent and Ilhan’s family lived in a makeshift structure made of sticks and cloth,” she said when reached by telephone by the Guardian.

Omar was born in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, but was raised in the inland town of Baidoa. She fled Somalia’s civil war with her parents at the age of eight and spent four years at what became known as the Dadaab camp in neighbouring Kenya.

Now a vast, impoverished city with an estimated population of at least 250,000 people, conditions were rudimentary when Omar was a resident. Many refugees had arrived from Somalia with nothing more than they could carry.

Read More :The Guardian


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