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Fargo man invited to attend refugee event in DC

Amar Hussein figures it was his job working for an American company in Iraq that made him the target of a bombing in 2005. He suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized for more than a year. But then he got good news: He would be resettled in...

Amar Hussein figures it was his job working for an American company in Iraq that made him the target of a bombing in 2005.

He suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized for more than a year.

But then he got good news: He would be resettled in the United States with help from Lutheran Social Services.

Now the 37-year-old, his wife, Ruqia, and their two daughters are happily living in Fargo, where Amar Hussein works for LSS helping others acclimate to life in a new land.

He is also one of some 50 refugees selected by their peers from across the United States who are sharing their stories at the first-ever Refugee Congress in Washington, D.C., this week.

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"I can't think of a better person to do this," said Nola Storm, who works at the Fargo Adult Learning Center and who befriended the Husseins when they spent some time at the learning center polishing their English skills.

Storm described Hussein as a tireless advocate for new arrivals in this country.

"He's articulate and intelligent, and he's got a huge heart and he really cares about people," Storm said.

A student at North Dakota State University where he is studying architecture, Hussein spends part of his free time pitching in at a community garden in south Fargo.

He and the families of other newcomers to America assist each other in growing food to put on their tables.

"On Thursdays, we meet from 5 p.m. until 7:30-8 p.m.," Hussein said, adding that he and a group of volunteers also show up Saturday mornings to work in the garden.

Hussein said he views the United States and the Fargo-Moorhead area specifically as a land of opportunity for his daughters, ages 2 and 3, who were born here.

"We need for our kids to live in an environment that is safe for them. They are not going to face what we faced before," said Hussein, who plans to apply for citizenship next year.

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This week, he is part of the Refugee Congress organized by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Others taking part include a Holocaust survivor, a Rwandan genocide survivor and a former Burmese soldier who was imprisoned for 15 years for advocating democratic change, said Charity Tooze, a UNHCR spokeswoman.

One goal of the congress is to get ideas from participants on how resettling refugees could be made easier for those fleeing violence and injustice, Tooze said.

A secondary goal is to support the U.S. as a pioneer and a leader in refugee resettlement, she added.

As part of today's events, participants will visit with members of the U.S. Congress or their staff, Tooze said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

Related Topics: EVENTSFAMILY
I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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