In the words of Pope Paul John ll, “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly, knowing I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you.”
Do you believe Somalis had an impact on Lewiston?
Do you know their background, what they have gone through, where they are coming from?
Everything the Somalis went through to get here was dreadful. They had to flee their beautiful country because war broke out. Fighting for their lives to reach a refugee camp, where they waited, scared of what or who they would run into; waited until it was their turn to find a new home.
Nearly starving, the Somalis may not have rested until they got the news that they were entering a new country where they were to make it their home.
If you’ve only heard the rumors, then there is more to the story.
When the Somalis reached Lewiston, there were many impacts. Not all positive, not all negative, but they have made a difference.
Have you heard about the many positive programs created to help Somali children and adults? Probably not, because often we — as people — pick out only the negative because it is so much easier to see.
But does that mean good does not exist? Of course not.
Immigrant Rilwan Osman opened soccer programs and founded the Somali Bantu Youth Association of Maine, giving Somalis a chance to learn American life, or “the good way.”
Another program helped 156 Somalis become U.S. citizens. This class has a 100 percent success rate.
A third program, the Juvenile Justice Program, was created to reduce violence, teach leadership and explain to children how to act as role models for others. Within the last year, this program helped 302 boys and girls.
All of these programs opened opportunities for Somali children and adults. In the words of Osman, “without knowledge is without light.”
Sean Convey said, “Isn’t it kind of silly how tearing somebody down can build people up?” Many people believe an untrue story about how and why the Somalis have come to Lewiston.
Have you ever heard that Somalis didn’t want to be in their country anymore. Instead, they decided to come to our country where they were given free cars, housing and food.” Well, that’s not true.
The rumors negatively impacted the Lewiston community, separating the Somalis and the existing residents of Lewiston.
On Sept. 26, 2013, during an interview with Qamar Bashir, she said that once, when stopped at a red light, the people in the car next to her rolled down their window and asked, “Did you get that car for free?” While shopping at a local store, she would be questioned about her clothes and the way she dressed.
How would you feel if someone questioned the way you dressed, or the things you had?
That is how many Somalis felt, but the truth is that they work and have jobs. Many Somalis pay for their housing and their cars. They are just like us.
They are people who deserve the same things as us because the Somalis are part of the Lewiston community.
Many people believed the migration was all negative, but was it? The Lewiston community was changed in good and challenging ways. When you look around, try to notice the good in everything because it’s there.
Not everything was positive, and not everything was negative. It was neutral.
In the words of Sai Baba, “Life is a challenge — meet it.”
Morgan Brousseau is a student at Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland.