Sahra Farah Somalia When I first came to the U.S., I worked for Tyson Company in Pennsylvania; a chicken factory. At my next job, I drove a forklift. I moved here to Seattle and drove for a Metro company that offered transportation for seniors. I earned “Driver of the Month,” and trained other drivers after that. I was a single mother of three so I always had a job. I decided to start my own business, so I took some college courses. On the day of final exams, I walked out of the building and found an elderly Somali lady who had seen me enter. She was waiting for me. I went to her and she began to cry; she told me that she was lost, unable to find her house, and unable to speak the language well enough to ask for help. I took her home, and she invited me in. She was here in the United States, but she often wondered, “What am I doing here? I can’t understand the culture and I don’t speak the language.” She was isolated and lonely and only wanted to return to Somalia. Something happened to me that day. I realized the best thing for me to do was to help my people. I chose to work with the Somali community. I could have gotten an office job, but I told my teacher that this was what I wanted to do. This lady changed my mind. In the beginning we collected a little money from everyone in the Somali community and looked for a place to have a community center. We wanted a place where we could come together to see our own people, a place where we could support each other. In September of 1995 a group of us started this place, all contributing to pay the rent. When I had a job I could afford more, but since I began to work at the center as a volunteer full time, it’s been very hard. I barely make any money. Some people believe that God will give you whatever you need. As Muslims, we believe in helping those who have less and it will come back. I’ve come here to help people, although it is a challenge. I can’t always help them. Sometimes it is only comfort I give. I give of my heart. I wish I had the money to do more. Now I think almost every Somali in the Rainier Valley knows my name. They call me the mother of the Somali community. I am the one they call when they need help. For me, trust is the number one thing. When they trust me, nothing else matters. I don’t know about tribe, I don’t know about color, I don’t want to change anybody. A human being is a human being. There is a senior group, a youth group, and also a mothers’ group, and parenting classes. We all have fun when we get together. I have a group of seniors that come every Saturday. I feed them, and they do exercises. They tell me that “We come to eat, but mostly we come for you, Sahra.” Even if I am sick, I must go; they are all waiting for me. I feel so very lucky I have never seen war. I have not witnessed all the problems in Somalia. I hear from my family what is going on there, and it breaks my heart. I say thank you God, I know by this time if I were there I would have been killed, or maybe I would have killed somebody. I am a peace-loving person I would love to be able to help those who need it the most and I know my country needs so much help right now.