The 2nd Annual OceanLeaf Awards Celebration recognizes individuals who have helped to bridge the gap between the East African refugee community and greater San Diego
October 15, 2012 (San Diego)—Somali Family Service of San Diego is hosting the 2nd Annual OceanLeaf Awards Celebration to recognize the accomplishments of San Diego leaders who have contributed to the advancement of the Somali and East African refugee community in the city. The event celebrates the refugee journey to a new homeland (Ocean) and unity among cultures (Leaf).
By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2011 (San Diego)—Inside the Safari Market bazaar, a Somali woman sells bright-colored beaded head scarves, jewelry and rugs. Two dozen vendors offer other wares and services. Nearby, African Spice restaurant serves up savory sambussas (pastry shells filled with meats, vegetables and African spices), succulent fish, lamb, goat, and an aromatic tea seasoned with cloves. Safari Market also sells groceries, such as large bags of cinnamon and rice, some labeled in Arabic.
No, this isn’t a street scene out of Africa. It’s a new business incubator in the East San Diego neighborhood known as “Little Mogadishu” – a hub where refugees from war-torn East African nations such as Somalia, the Sudan, Eritria and Ethiopia are starting new lives in America, aided by the nonprofit organizations Horn of Africa Community and Somali Family Services. The Safari center has created 125 jobs for East African refugees, mostly women. Now it's become a model that is being replicated in other U.S. cities.
An East County Magazine Special Report
ECM conducted exclusive interviews with people who fled war-torn Somalia and were granted asylum in the U.S. Fearing retribution against family members still in Somalia, the asylees agreed to speak out under condition that their identities be protected. The stories below are real, though the names are pseudonyms. Their tales describe dramatic round-the-world journeys to reach America, hardships endured on the road and inside U.S. detention facilities, as well as hopes for the future as they start new lives through Project Refuge in San Diego.
By Miriam Raftery
February 17, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Aisha comes from a rural area near Mogadishu in Somalia. “I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said of the fighting and war-torn conditions that led her to flee her homeland.