You may remember the story from this past April: A 15-year old boy miraculously survives a five-and-a-half hour flight from San Jose to Hawaii. Minimal oxygen, freezing temperatures, seeing the clouds through “the little holes” in the well. Yahya Abdi snuck over a fence and climbed into the flight because it was the only one he could find that was heading west.
West because he felt mistreated by his stepmother and father. West, because he knew eventually it could take him back to his mother, half a world away in an Ethiopian refugee camp.
Ubah Mohammed Abdule is her name, and her story is interesting as well.
She hasn’t seen Yahya in over eight years, much of which he thought she was dead – something his father had always told him since he fled Soamlia with Yahya and his sister in 2006.
“He first took the children away from me to Sudan. Then he came back to Somalia and demanded my consent for him to take the children to the U.S. if I wanted a formal divorce. I was not OK with that and said no,” Ubah told the Mercury News. “Finally, he took all three of my children to the U.S. without my knowledge.”
The family is one of thousands to flee Somalia in recent years due to Muslim extremists. Today, Ubah lives in the Shedder refugee camp, where she makes a few dollars a day selling vegetables. Like any mother, she panicked when she heard what her son had endured and required counseling.
She’s trying to get to the US to see her son. She must undergo a series of screening interviews by the UN before she could qualify to immigrate to the US. She’s passed the first interview, and could possibly be in the US by this time next year if she continues to progress.
Ubah was moved to a more secure location within the camp after receiving death threats from men who she believes are friends of her ex-boyfriend, Yahya’s father.
Meanwhile, her son has been with a Santa Clara foster home and is planning to move to Minneapolis to live with an aunt. By all accounts he’s happier now, doing typical teenage things like playing video games and watching movies.
It’s a sad, almost painful story of a boy who was told for years that his mother was dead – only to be told she’s alive and living in a refugee camp halfway across the world. Whether his home life is truly miserable, or if he’s just a super-emotional teenager, it still pains to know that he can’t have the one thing he wants – to be with his mother.