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Education: My Escape, My Future

Rahmo meets Farhat & Jieun

Rahmo Bare (center) meets with Farhat Popal (left) and Jieun Pyun (right) of the George W. Bush Policy Institute to discuss women's empowerment

Photo: Alex Laywell

I was born in Somalia, a country fractured by civil war. When I was seven-years-old, a group of armed men entered my house and turned our things upside down. The militias had been terrorizing my neighborhood in their search for recruitable teenage boys. Violence quickly escalated, schools shut down, and people started fleeing to safer cities. All throughout the day and night, you would hear guns firing as the militias drove through the streets. 

We were traumatized by what we had witnessed in our own home. Only a few days later, my uncle was shot on his way to see us. After that day, I was unable to play or speak with my grandmother. 

It had been a long time since I slept through the night, and my grandmother was becoming concerned for my health. She sold all her belongings so we could move to Ethiopia. We couldn’t afford to take an airplane so my grandmother, my brother, and I rode the bus, while my mother went to a refugee camp in Thailand. 

I often wondered why my mother left me and my brother behind. As I grew up, I understood the sacrifices my mother made for us to have a better future. I realized that she left us because she didn't want to take us to a place where she may not even make ends meet.

Meanwhile, we tried our best to adapt and settle in Ethiopia. However, because of the language and financial barriers, I didn’t have the opportunity to attend elementary school. I remember feeling incomplete watching the other kids in my neighborhood attend school while we couldn't. As a kid, I knew that acquiring education was the most critical aspect of my life because it allows me to thrive.

After five long years of waiting, our cases were finally processed and our travel documents were given at the same time. When we arrived to the United States, learning English and speaking it was difficult for me—my peers could barely understand what I was saying. As a result, I struggled to build connections and figure out who I was. I turned to academics as a way to bring light into a situation that seemed hopeless; it became my escape and my opportunity for a better future.

Now that I am in school, I strive every day to reach my academic potential. In order to challenge myself beyond high school, I joined a program that allows high school students to take college courses. This program has helped me grow as a person because it taught me to go beyond my expectation and helped me create a vision for myself and my family. 

Despite the situations we have been through, my family still had our moments of connection, laughter, excitement, and comfort. As a first-generation student, I am honored and blessed to have the opportunity to attend school that my parents did not have. Over the past three years, I learned how to overcome the fears which had held me back. My life experience has taught me to make better decisions, embrace new challenges in my path, and contribute positive methods to ensure success in my life.


Rahmo Bare was reunified with her mother in Dallas in 2013 after fleeing the Somali Civil War. This summer, she joined the IRC in Dallas as the 2019 Dallas Mayor's Intern Fellow, where she worked in both Development and Resettlement & Processing. As an intern, Rahmo supported casework for newly-arrived families informed by her personal experiences. Rahmo will be graduating in May 2020 with both a high school diploma and an associate's degree, and hopes to fulfill her passion for service by pursuing a career in healthcare.