FARGO — In a few days, a Fargo businesswoman will fly to Africa with a North Dakota based charity and teach orphan girls a skill that could change their lives.
Mai Doam has been operating her alterations business on Main Avenue in Fargo for years, but soon, she will join Deb Dawson as she travels to Uganda, Africa as part of Dawson's Fargo-based, African Soul, American Heart charity.
Doam will help teach sewing skills to 43 South Sudanese refugee girls ASAH has been taking care of at its site in Northern Uganda. Many of the girls are now reaching an age where they have to consider a career.
"Mai is a refugee herself, and so she can tell them there is a life for refugees even if they are not in their own country," said Dawson, charity president.
"Some of our girls will not be able to go back to South Sudan, it is just too dangerous there," she continued. "And if they learn to be tailors, they can go to a refugee camp and make clothes for people and earn money for doing that."
Mai Doam has a connection with the girls she'll be teaching. She herself once struggled through the heartbreak and hardship of war.
Her father died in the Vietnam War, fighting alongside U.S. forces. She and her mother lived far in the jungle, near the Laos-Cambodia border.
The orphaned refugee girls from South Sudan have also escaped war, poverty and abuse. Doam, who came to America in 1991, has found a connection with girls of ASAH, the young women she is about to meet for the first time.
"In my life, I lived it in the war. I know how they feel — no food, no clothes. Nothing. I know how they lived," Doam said.
Doam will teach the girls at a month-long technical school, located near a wildlife park featured in WDAY's "Orphans of the Nile" documentary two years ago. Since then, some of the girls have entered college, thanks to the Fargo charity.
One of the girls from the "Orphans of the Nile" documentary is ranked third in a nursing school class of 153.
You can learn more about African Soul, American Heart on their website.