Somalian refugees adapt to university

Somalia-born students adjust to life outside the confines of a refugee camp.

Vancouver Island University international student Noor Mohamed Maalim

Like many of the close to 1,700 international students at Vancouver Island University, Fatuma Hassan Ali and Noor Mohamed Maalim had to adapt to their new surroundings on Canada’s West Coast.

Unlike almost all the other students at VIU, the two Somalia-born students are adjusting to life outside the confines of a refugee camp.

Ali was an infant when she and her family fled the civil war violence in her home country. Maalim was four years old.

For the past 20 years, the two students lived in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex, a sprawling site made up of three overcrowded camps that are home to more than 450,000 Africans. Somalia, wracked by decades of civil war, is the source of the vast majority of refugees.

Ali and Maalim are among more than 70 students supported by World University Services of Canada local committees on campuses across Canada.

Since 1978, WUSC has helped more than 1,100 young men and women resettle in Canada as permanent residents and pursue their education through the Student Refugee Program.

The world university committee at VIU began sponsoring students in 2009. The university, through the Department of International Education, is backing the initiative by providing scholarships to cover tuition fees for the students’ first year of study.

The students appreciate the opportunity to build a new life for themselves and contribute to their families and communities.

They are also extremely grateful to be half a world away from the hardships of the camps where this fall cholera broke out and aid workers were kidnapped.

“The situation in Dadaab is really terrifying. Security is poor and the living standard is low. There’s a lack of resources for education. Life there is difficult,” said Ali.

Maalim said the move to Nanaimo meant a big adjustment.

Naturally both students miss their families, found plenty of support on campus and in the community.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Neighbours try to clean up around nuisance drug house on Milton Street in Nanaimo

560 Milton St. was declared a nuisance property last month

RDN Transit requiring masks for most come end of month

Masks, hand sanitizer to be handed out in Regional District of Nanaimo mask policy campaign

Vancouver Island films sought for One Minute Mobile Movie Challenge

All entries to be screened online in virtual film festival

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Have a heart when it comes to homelessness

When we de-humanize people, it’s easier to be cruel to them, says letter writer

Major injuries averted after three-vehicle crash in Nanoose Bay

Poor road conditions believed a factor in early-morning mishap

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 5

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read