Sadiya Omar – #VoicesofJAF

July 11, 2016 by mitchellcohen

We Power Those who Change the World

We believe that celebration is inspiration, and that by telling incredible stories about Jefferson Award winners, we inspire more people to participate in public service. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing stories from our National Ceremony, where Jefferson Award winners talked about their service and how winning a Jefferson Award magnifies their efforts and boosts their impact. They are the #VoicesofJAF.

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In June Sadiya Omar won a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities. Born in Somalia, Sadiya lived in a refugee camp in Kenya before moving to Rochester, New York where she founded Refugees Helping Refugees, an organization which provides essential resources to refugees in her community.

Born in Somalia, Sadiya Omar was forced to flee to Kenya because of civil war. There she spent ten years living in refugee camps working to promote education for women. The son of a teacher, Sadiya knew the value of an education and saw the devastating effect on young women who were denied the opportunity. As Woman Chairperson of the Kauma Refugee Camp, she worked with UN staff to help young women receive age-appropriate education, obtain feminine hygiene products to prevent absence due to health reasons, and advocate against child marriages. Her life was threatened due to these efforts and she was forced to relocate with her children to Rochester, New York.

I lived in a refugee camp for ten years where I promoted girls education and women’s rights. I came to the United States and formed Refugees Helping Refugees so that when refugees are most scared and in need, they have a place to turn to.

Once in Rochester, Sadiya found a refugee community that needed support. That’s why she co-founded Refugees Helping Refugees to combat isolation and help refugees assimilate into the Rochester community. RHR provides a full range of services such as finding jobs and filling out applications. She makes sure refugees can retain their native cultures while learning English and how to use computers. “For somebody who comes from another country, not speaking the language, not knowing the culture,” says Omar. “It’s like you don’t know anything when you come here. It’s important for me to help them so they can be successful in this country.” To learn more, visit Refugees Helping Refugees.

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