via Growing number of Somali refugees making Milwaukee home.
Omar Mohamad left his war-torn homeland of Somalia when he was about 6. For the next decade, his family lived in a refugee camp in Kenya.
Finally, in 2004, he and some family members were resettled in Milwaukee. He remembers it was October and the first time he had worn a jacket.
Although he had never been to school — there was little education in the camps — he was placed at Washington High School. He spoke no English. Students made fun of the way he dressed, and referred to him and other Somali Bantu — an ethnic minority within Somalia — as \”those Africans.\”
He began by reciting the ABCs and reading nursery rhymes like \”Mary Had a Little Lamb.\” His studying was relentless.
“School was not easy,” he said. “All I did was go home and study, eat and go to class.”
In 2008, he graduated as valedictorian. He continued on to Marquette University, where he received a degree in social welfare and justice. Now 24, he plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to get a master\’s degree in social work.
Among Milwaukee\’s small but growing Somali community, he\’s the first refugee to earn a college degree. He recently became a U.S. citizen and changed his last name to Mohamad from Mursal.
He became a U.S. citizen and changed his last name to Mohamad?
Mohamad said he’s confident others will follow and take their place among the growing ranks of a new generation of Somali Bantus who now call Milwaukee home.
About 40% of the elementary school-age children who attend the center are Somali, said Robert Dunn, president and CEO of Our Next Generation.
“Two or three years ago a Somali father came to us and was interested in the academic support we could offer his children,” Dunn said. Once that family came to the center, others followed.
“The influx of Somali children has been of great benefit to the cultural understanding and awareness,\” Dunn said. At first, the Somali children were viewed as outsiders, he said. They look and dress differently. As Muslims, the girls cover their hair and wear long dresses.
According to the state’s Department of Children and Families, the first wave of Somali refugees began arriving in 1995. Since then the federal government has resettled approximately 700 Somali in Wisconsin, primarily in Brown, Barron, Dane and Milwaukee counties.
Translation: U.S. taxpayers funded the relocation of Somali Muslims from Somalia to Wisconsin and got nothing in return.
The largest population — about 400 people —lives in Milwaukee, said Joe Scialfa, communications director for DCF.
But Ussuf Mursal, Mohamad’s brother, who works at Catholic Social Services refugee program, thinks the actual number is considerably larger. He estimates as many as 1,300 Somalis are now living here.
Nearly double? Someone’s lying.
There are about 250 families, he said, and most families have five or more children. For example, he said, he now has six children and his ex-wife has 11 children, including two of his.
It’s highly unlikely that two Somali immigrants are supporting 17 children so who is paying for all their kids? American taxpayers.
With such large families, providing the necessary support is a strain, he said. And because so many Somali Bantu did not go to school, passing the U.S. citizenship test presents a problem. Still, many are getting established, buying homes and starting businesses.
Like many other adults who left Somalia, he has painful memories of family members getting killed and raped. He’s now a citizen and loves Milwaukee.
“We came here for security, education and a better life,” he said. He has 13 children, some grown, some who attend Riverside High School or Milwaukee Area Technical College.
“We’ve all struggled very hard, but people like Omar and my kids will be a good example to others,” he said.
Mohamad said he wants to continue to work with his community. “My goal is to to make a path for my community and make our horizons bigger.”
A path for Islam. How can that be a good thing for Milwaukee – “beer capital of the world?”
Related: In Lewiston, Maine, another example of a government-manufactured immigrant Muslim community/takeover – there are immigrants on the taxpayer dole with 15 children!!!
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