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Family's resilience trumps travel ban

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One year ago today, Abdalla and Habibo received the devastating news that their 22-year-old daughter would not be joining them in Atlanta as planned, that her flight had been cancelled, that Somalis had been banned. They had only been in the United States for a few days when the first travel ban was announced, halting the refugee resettlement program and barring all entrants from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Somalia, for 90 days. Batulo was left in Kakuma Refugee Camp, alone and terrified that she’d never see her family again.

The weeks that followed were full of worry and uncertainty but Abdalla never lost hope, and the family were finally able to reunite when the travel ban was temporarily held up in court. This emotional journey received national media attention, but after such a tumultuous start to their new life in Atlanta, the family soon settled down and began to rebuild their lives.

Anxiously awaiting Batulo's arrival, Atlanta airport, February 2017.

Anxiously awaiting Batulo's arrival, Atlanta airport, February 2017.

Photo: Crystal Anne Photography

As the youngest children were quickly enrolled in local schools, Abdalla, Habibo and their oldest children attended the IRC in Atlanta’s English classes. With their advanced English skills, oldest siblings Juma and Batulo became an instant support to the family—and other Somali community members—providing informal interpretation and helping others to access services.

With the support of his IRC Employment Specialist, Abdalla was quickly able to find work, first with Silver Line Building Products, a window manufacturer, and later moving to a position at Home Goods Distribution Center. Throughout this past year he has maintained stable employment and improved his English, attending classes at the IRC when his shifts allow. Habibo attends English class every day while the little ones are in school, and has developed valuable friendships with many of her classmates.

Oldest siblings Batulo, Juma, Asha and Abdikadir were all ideal candidates for the IRC in Atlanta’s Connect to Success (C2S) program for refugee young adults aged 16–24 who aren’t  in school. Through C2S, all four are now enrolled in GED classes at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and Batulo—who was the first to begin the classes last year—is supporting her younger siblings with their studies. When she’s not busy reading, Batulo works for Global Concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson airport and plans to pursue nursing once she completes her GED. Juma is currently working with his father at Home Goods Distribution Center and hopes to pursue engineering, and Abdikadir works in food processing and would one day like to become a police officer.

This incredible family have been through unimaginable hardships but are now thriving here in Georgia thanks to their dedication to hard work and continuous learning. Please join us in celebrating their momentous achievements.


Abdalla, Habibo and their children were the last Somali family resettled by the IRC in Atlanta.  


To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.

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