My Family Doesn’t Get Things for Free

– Author –


I came here as a child refugee. When I read some of the comments made about refugees in St. Cloud, they kind of hurt my feelings. I spent half of my life here in St. Cloud, MN. I feel like some of the residents in this city clearly have misunderstanding or fear of refugees in this city. People who are spreading rumors believe refugees get everything for free and that is just untrue. Refugees pay tax just like every citizen. 

There was one negative comment on the article that got my attention. It was not that surprising to me, but I was taken aback by how little education people have about Somalis in the St. Cloud area. One guy named Ben said “You people are disgusting. Europe was ruined by allowing millions of third world savages in, and now you want to do the same to this great state?” 

The definition of refugee is “a person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster”. This is what happened to my family. 

My family and I had no choice but to settle in refugee camps in Kenya – mother, father, everyone – because a civil war broke out in Somalia. My father was a manager at a construction company and my mother owned a restaurant. They lost their house and business due to the war.  

My family and I came to America as refugees 11 years ago. We first settled in Columbus, Ohio. We went through a lot of struggles as newcomers. We have been living in St. Cloud the past 10 years.  My parents both worked full time to make sure we were good. It is really upsetting when ignorant people make comments such as “refugees get everything handed to them for free”, because last time I checked everyone is working and paying tax just like every other citizen. 

At the end of the day, we need to stop fearing the unknown and put our biases aside to build our community. I know it is impossible to get rid of stereotyping generally whether it’s toward refugees or minorities. Ignorance is a disease but all you can do is educate the ignorant and show them positive sides of the world.   

Naima is a student at St Cloud State.