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Adult Education Grad Seeks to make a Difference in this World

Adult Education Grad Seeks to make a Difference in this World

NORFOLK, Neb. – Mohamed Awale has known tough times.

Still, he is thankful and appreciates living in the United States, especially South Sioux City where he currently lives.

Born in 1976 in Mogadishu, Somalia, he had seven sisters and five brothers. Two sisters, his mother and one brother died. The rest of his family remain in Africa.

In 1991, a civil war erupted, and everyone fled to different countries. Awale went to Nairobi, Kenya, where he lived for 11 years. He had completed school up to the ninth grade before he arrived in Nairobi, where he found a job as a photographer.

That’s when he had some good luck. He ended up getting an American visa lottery and came to the United States on Oct. 19, 2003. He considers Oct. 19 to be his birthday now.

His first job in the United States was at the then-Tyson beef plant in Norfolk. He worked there for two years.

“Then the plant was closed and they took us to a different city -- Emporia, Kansas,” Awale said. “Then that plant closed, and they shipped us to Dakota City.”

Awale worked two years at Emporia then 3 ½ years at the plant in Dakota City.

Unfortunately, one day Awale had a headache he couldn’t get rid of. He went to a clinic, and they told him his blood pressure was quite high and he needed to go to an emergency room. He went to the hospital and was asked if he had ever had a blood transfusion.

It isn’t known for sure, but it is believed he had a blood transfusion at some point that might have caused his kidneys to fail, Awale said. In January 2009, he lost his kidneys and started dialysis. In 2014, he received a kidney transplant.

“At the time (my kidneys failed), I was a smoker. They said I had ‘mucus in my chest,’” Awale said, complicating his health situation.

The mucus made it hard for him to breathe. Later in 2009, he was no longer able to work and is on disability. Ever since, he has worked as a volunteer. That was also the year he earned his American citizenship.

It took five years, and Awale was able to complete his Adult Education on Thursday, June 27. In fact, he was awarded a $1,000 scholarship toward the cost of attending Northeast in the fall.

“I want to study the social sciences,” Awale said. “I have lots of things I want to study, but I want my base to be (helping people understand cultural differences).”

One of his interests is computer science and engineering. In Somalia, Awale had already earned a certificate in electricity.

Awale already has some experience in his varied interests. He has worked as a volunteer to help federal police understand the East African community. Since he is knowledgeable about community problems, he also volunteers in the South Sioux City Community Schools, helping East African families.

Awale is a single parent father, with a son, Jamaal, 15, who goes to South Sioux City High School.

When he talks about his son, he naturally gets excited. His son motivates him to try and promote more understanding in the world, he said.

Mohamed feature
Mohamed Awale of South Sioux City has endured hardships in his life, including the loss of both his kidneys and sight in one eye that keeps him from working. Still, Awale volunteers wherever he can and wants to help others. He recently completed his GED at Northeast, graduating on Thursday, June 27. (Northeast Community College)