The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 26, 2014

Family ties protect Somalis in Mankato

Mankato's Somalis supported by community, schools


Sumaya Hassan is a senior at East High School who moved to Mankato after living in San Diego for several years. Her parents made the move because they had heard Mankato was a safe city and a good place to raise children, she said.

In San Diego, there were a lot of bad influences, Hassan said. In Mankato, those influences aren't as strong because the Somalians here, and school employees, don't tolerate them. She used a shopping trip as an example.

"When I go to Wal-Mart, I see other students and other people I know," she said. "That's something I didn't get in San Diego. Making connections was a lot harder there. It's easy here and those people you make connections with are also pushing you to be better."

Hassan doesn't think anyone trying to recruit a Mankato Somalian to go back to Somalia for the wrong reasons would have any success. Her classmate, East junior Hussein Mohamoud, agreed.

"If someone was trying to do that to me, I would ask a lot of questions and go talk to an adult," Mohamoud said. "I'd also discuss it with my parents, but I don't see that happening here."

If a Somali teen or young adult is getting into any type of trouble, it's addressed by the entire Somali community, Ibrahim said. That usually involves a family visit with the elders and a talk with an imam, a man who leads prayers at a mosque.

"We get together and talk about what the family is going through and they get advice from the elders at the Islamic Center," Ibrahim said. "Our religion doesn't allow for fighting, stealing or drinking."

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