In October 2016, Zuleika arrived in Nashville with her five children. After fleeing Somalia as a child herself in the early 1990’s, and living in Uganda for over twenty years, she had finally reached the United States.
She came looking for acceptance as a single parent and a stable life for herself and her children. “The biggest [fear] back then [in Uganda]…was that there would be no future for us,” she says. There was no hope of employment or education in the poorly sanitized Ugandan refugee camp, so she began applying for resettlement in America.
The process was long. When she first applied for resettlement Zuleika only had one child, but she had four more and eventually separated from her husband in the time it took to get permission. “It takes a lot of verification to get a refugee…to America,” she says.
Her ultimate goal? Zuleika says she would like to receive her GED and become a resettlement officer. This will not be an easy task for her, as she’s currently working full time as a housekeeper to provide for her kids, but she believes that “the sky’s the limit” and feels compelled to assist other displaced people searching for a better life. “I know what refugees go through. I was one of them; I lived in a refugee camp for twenty years. I want to [give] my help back to the refugees.”