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My mom was once single and homeless. That's why she does this job

Courtesy of Hanad Jama
The mother of RadioActive producer Hanad Jama, Nimo Husien with her niece Ardo Hersi. (Also a RadioActive producer.)

Who are helpers? Often it's people who know how much it means to be helped.

Like my mother, Nimo Husien. She runs a daycare from our house for single mothers and immigrant families. Why? Because she was once a single mother and a refugee. It was hard for her, but now she wants to give back.

My mother was born in Somaliland. She was a happy child, but all that changed when the civil war started in Somalia.

"I know a lot of people who died," she told me. "My close family, my friends, my neighbors."

She was 12-years-old when she left her hometown. She and her family walked out of Somalia. She was hungry and thirsty and she saw a lot of people die along the way.

Her family moved from refugee camp to refugee camp until they applied for visas to the U.S. Finally, on Feb. 14, 1996, my mother entered the U.S. She was pregnant with my older brother.

My father came to United States in 1998, and I was born a year later. Like a lot of refugee families, our immigration process was complicated and it brought my parents to different places. So even though my mom was married, she wasn't living with my father for years, which made her a single mother.

When my mother came to the U.S., she settled in a house in California and found a job working at a small vegetable market. She was the only person in the household with a job. It was tough on her.

My mother decided to move to Seattle from California to join her siblings. She thought Seattle would be a safer place, but when she arrived, she realized that her family was down on money and had nowhere to live. She didn't know anyone else in Seattle. 

The three of us – my mom, brother and me – ended up at a shelter in downtown Seattle. Help was the only thing she thought about. She needed help. So she reached out to the State of Washington for assistance. After three months, she found a house and started a job. She was able to take care of me and my brother. In 2000, my father joined us in Seattle.

From that point on, my mother's main goal was to help others. Since she was being helped so much from the state and social workers, she wanted to return the favor.

She decided to open her own daycare to help single mothers and other immigrant families. After she started thinking about opening a daycare her whole life changed. It meant a lot for her to open her own daycare and she felt like she was a leader.

"It's a lot of hard work but everything is OK right now," she told me.

My mother is also attending Seattle Central College, studying to receive her associates degree. She wants to be a nurse.

My mother is a hard worker. She wakes up at 6 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., which means I can't see her as much as I would like, so I decided to record a letter to my mother telling her how I feel.

“Mom I just want to say, even though I don’t see you that much in the day, since you’re so busy with work and school, and I’m so busy with school, that I really love you, I really care for you. And even though it’s hard for me, even though I’m graduating next year, I don’t even know you can make my graduation so thank you for everything you’ve done for me and my siblings.  I love you."

[asset-images[{"caption": "RadioActive producer Hanad Jama with his mother Nimo Husien", "fid": "127492", "style": "placed_left", "uri": "public://201606/spring_2016_photobooth_for_fb21_0.jpg", "attribution": "Credit Credit KUOW Photo / Colleen McDevitt"}]]My mother always thinks about the time she came to the United States. She felt like it was destined for her.

"I love the United States. It's a very very good place and I'm happy. I have a good life," she told me.

She still has plans to go back to Somalia to relax but she says she'll be back to the States. She says, "When I come back, I want to enjoy my kids."

This story was created in RadioActive Youth Media's Spring 2016 Workshop for high school students at the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library.  Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.