Hello. Hello. Good morning. Good morning. How are you?
My name is Mohamed Abdurahman. I'm from
I was born in
The change for me came in 1969.
BBC BROADCAST: General Siad, why did you dismiss the civilian government, and assume control of the country?
I very vividly remember that I was going to school, and seeing all these pickups, you know, with all these military uniformed guys, with machineguns. And we were told there was a coup. We didn't know what the coup was.
BBC: Was there any fighting at all? No. Would you say that it was a bloodless clue?
In the beginning, it seemed normal, and the country was progressing. A few years down the road, things changed.
I got my bachelor's degree in agriculture in
My wife joined me, and she got pregnant. She got very sick. We both decided that she would go back to
One day, I'm sitting in
NPR BROADAST: This is Morning Edition. I'm Bob Edwards. The capital city of the northeast African nation of
DANIEL ZWERDLING: Bands of government soldiers, rebels and just plain criminals have been roaming some neighborhoods, stealing cars, and killing people in broad daylight and having gun battles in the markets. Hundreds of citizens have died
EDWARDS: Fighting continues today in
ZWERDLING: Most communications between the city and the outside world have been cut off.
I have kept writing letters through Red Cross, but there was nobody. It was one of the most scariest, frustrating times in my life.
By then, in 1991, I finished my master's degree, and I'm supposed to go back to
So, you know, I would come and help my professor, you know, analyze some data and write some research papers just to keep my mind busy. So I don't go crazy. It took me 3 years to find out whether my parents, my wife, my sisters, my brothers, were alive. Or not.
A friend of mind who was with me in
He e-mailed to my professor. And when I read, I, you know, burst into tears. I could not believe that they were alive.
My parents and my wife had fled
The Indian government said you can only bring my wife and my son. So they joined me in early 1994. The night before, I could not sleep. I was up all night. I was turning and tossing and thinking about it. I remember very well going to the airport two hours ahead of time, sitting in the airport, waiting for them. And when they arrived, I was running like crazy in the airport, trying to see what gate they were coming out. As soon as I saw my wife, and my son, I just don't know what I did. I just went through people and grabbed them. We started crying. My son was crying. Of course he didn't know me. Here's your dad. Meet him for the first time Mr. 3-year-old.
A few months later, she got pregnant with our younger son.
LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS
WIFE: And this is Radwan, my son, when he lost his first teeth, his first teeth. (Laughs) and this is Abdi in the camps, he was in the camp, refugee camp. My boys, they are handsome, both of them. (Laughs.)
In 1996, I finished my PHD, and I obtained my doctorate degree. Here I am a refugee. I can't go back to my country, I can't work here, I cannot do anything. So the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees took our case to the American Embassy.
I got the letter of the approval and I brought to my wife and I showed her. You know, the children didn't know what was going on. We started jumping up and down. We were so happy.
They gave us a piece of paper saying you're going to
At least 10 or 15 people with balloons and our names were waiting for us right at the gate.
LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS
SON: That's the airport.
WIFE: We love
In 2005, my wife and I and our children, became
"Mohamed's Story" was produced by Lynette Kalsnes and edited by Cate Cahan with production assistance from Stacie Johnson for Chicago Matters: Beyond Borders, a series exploring the impact of immigration on the region.
Archival tape was provided by the BBC and National Public Radio.