Aisha Abdulle knows very well the challenges faced by Western New York’s refugee community. She was a 10-year-old refugee herself when she arrived here from Somalia with her mother.
Now, when she is not working as a registered nurse at the Erie County Medical Center, you might find her mentoring refugees as a volunteer at the Jericho Road Community Health Center, a culturally sensitive medical home for refugee and low-income community members, with locations on Buffalo’s West Side on Barton Street and East Side on Genesee Street.
“I kind of grew up with Jericho Road,” says Abdulle.
And now she’s encouraging others to help.
“Even as a child I understood the difficulty of my mother’s experiences,” says Abdulle. “As I grew older I knew that I could help other Somali refugees because I had been in the same situation.”
Abdulle says it’s easy to underestimate the struggles of people trying to navigate a new culture, a new language, and a new home. She says every human being wants peace and security and for refugees arriving in the U.S. finding those qualities represents the chance of a lifetime.
But she knows that navigating this new world can be difficult.
“When I mentor, I do whatever I can,” says Abdulle. “It might mean serving as a translator during a doctor’s appointment; helping with shopping; or even just chatting. It all makes a difference.”
It’s a role Abdulle takes seriously, not only having been in a similar situation as the people she’s helping, but because she says it’s her duty to give back.
“I have established myself with the help of Jericho and others and now I’ve been given this opportunity to help others,” she says. “I know that whatever help anyone can provide – whether it’s me working as a mentor or a donor contributing to the Campaign for the Community – is going to have an impact on the lives of others.”