I am Amina, a 17-year-old girl. I lived with my mother and sisters in Mogadishu, Somalia. My father died long ago because of fighting between the military and militia groups. All my life there has been war around me. One night soldiers broke into my home. In just a few moments, we grabbed a few things and scattered as we escaped through a window.
STOP AND THINK – what would you take with you?
I saw dead bodies in the streets as I ran and I lost track of my other family members. Eventually I found two cousins and we decided to travel to Europe through Sudan because it was not safe to stay in Somalia.
ASK YOURSELF – would you stay in war-torn Somalia or choose a perilous journey?
We walked north, hungry and thirsty. Finally we made it to Sudan but had no place to stay and no work because we were illegal aliens. We found smugglers to take us across the Sahara desert to Tripoli, Libya. I didn’t want to go but didn’t have a choice. We boarded three Land Rovers to travel across the desert. The trip was supposed to take 8-10 days if all went well.
In my vehicle I met Ooba who was my age. She gave me hope, company and a friend. We shared our experiences through the long hours of driving. We had to ration our food and water and were scared we would run out of fuel. One day, our vehicle hit a bump going too fast. Ooba was thrown and killed. The other two vehicles continued the journey to get supplies and come back for us because our Land Rover was undrivable. We were in the desert for three long days and we ran out of food and water. We buried my friend Ooba.
The third day, we were finally rescued. We arrived in Tripoli and found more smugglers who would take us across the Mediterranean to Italy. My cousins insisted that I go because we only had money to pay for one person. I didn’t want to leave them, but I agreed to go. I boarded a fishing boat that should have held only 15 crew members. Instead, there were 100 of us. The trip was supposed to take three days if all went well. The motor failed and the boat drifted aimlessly. But we were lucky. The Maltese Coast Guard rescued us and brought us to a refugee center in Malta where we were given food, water and a place to sleep. While I was grateful for running water, I didn’t feel safe or at home.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO – stay illegally in Libya or attempt a sea crossing, alone, to Italy?
Many in Malta made it clear we were not welcome. I stayed in an overcrowded and dirty refugee camp until I was chosen to come to the United States, to a place called Minnesota. When I arrived it was 10° F and everything was white. I live with a distant relative who I don’t know very well, but I’m very thankful for a family and a place to live and start my new life.
Imagine you are Amina:
Amina had traveled nearly 10,000 miles when she arrived in Minnesota. Picture yourself a 17-year-old fleeing your home, losing your family, walking 1,200 miles through Sudan and then crossing the Sahara desert in an old broken-down vehicle to find you were not welcomed or wanted. Imagine yourself drifting at sea with 100 strangers for days not knowing if you would be rescued.
Amina’s journey is not unusual or unique. And it is not the end of her story.
When refugees arrive in Minnesota, they must find a home and job, learn English, enroll in school, learn our customs, and learn to navigate the Twin Cities. Amina, and many like her, find a warm welcome from Arrive Ministries, caring church teams and volunteers so they no longer have to navigate alone.
This past year, Arrive Ministries:
• resettled nearly 400 refugees, providing housing, furniture and practical support
• helped over 100 refugees find employment to support themselves
• helped more than 1,100 refugees navigate the US legal system; 230 immigrants file for US citizenship and over 400 apply for green cards
• worked with 53 churches who were the hands and feet of Jesus showing love and compassion to refugees and immigrants arriving in our communities
• connected 25 refugee families with Refugee Life Ministries and New Neighbor teams, while also connecting 1,600 refugee families to church garden plots
Arrive Ministries is the lifeline for these refugees, our new neighbors and friends.
We cannot do it without your financial support. We have increased need for resources and staffing to serve even more new neighbors as we also provide training and support to our church partners. Your contribution will help us to meet the increasing demand as we expand our outreach. I humbly ask you to come alongside Arrive Ministries with a year-end financial gift. We need your help to continue to see God transform the lives of those He has brought to our doorsteps.