fbpx Skip to main content


Nasra and two daughtersIf you were to enter Nasra’s house, you would be met with a cup of fruit juice, the sounds of laughing, bickering siblings, and an immaculate kitchen. Nasra is a mother like many others; she has been putting the needs of her children first for years. Unlike many mothers, her wish to provide the best for her eight children has spanned five countries and three civil wars.

“I did this whole thing to give my children the better life they need.”

Originally from Somalia, Nasra and her family were forced to flee in 2007 after the disappearance of her husband during the country’s protracted civil war. The family traveled to Yemen, but when violence and instability again threatened her children’s safety, Nasra took her family to Syria. In 2012, Nasra’s family fled to Turkey and began to wait for resettlement.

In 2015 Nasra was informed that she and her six youngest children would be resettled in the United States. Her two oldest children were too old to come to the United States as part of her family, and they are in Turkey awaiting resettlement. Nasra hopes that they will be reunited.

“I feel I’m American now because at last I can breathe.”

Nasra and six of her children arrived in Minnesota in May 2016. Because one of Nasra’s daughters has severe scoliosis and another has autism, her family was enrolled in the Institute’s extended case management program. Their case manager, Elizabeth Ross, works with the family to navigate the complex American medical system. Elizabeth loves working with the family, and is impressed with Nasra’s determination. “This is a woman who keeps putting one foot in front of the other through the unthinkable,” Elizabeth says of Nasra. “I am in awe of her strength and energy. She is always advocating for her family and is on top of decisions that could reasonably be overwhelming. She is a true partner in case management.”

“I need my children to be good people, good education so they can help themselves. That’s all I need in life.”

Basma, the daughter with scoliosis, is scheduled to undergo surgery in December. Like her mother, she is a strong woman. She loves to cook and frequently experiments with ingredients, occasionally to her sibling’s dismay.

Qasim is attending classes to prepare for his GED. He enjoys school and spends his free time studying for his driver’s license exam.

Rasha describes herself as a business woman in training. She made the quilts covering the family’s beds while waiting for resettlement in Turkey and hopes to find affordable sewing classes in Minnesota.

Esma is shy, but enjoys watching horror movies and is excited to read her first Stephen King novel in English. She hopes to be a fashion designer after she finishes school.

Wefa is an aspiring author. She writes poetry in Arabic, but is excited to build her vocabulary in school so that she can switch to English. She has started dreaming in English, which she takes as a good sign.

Ruweyda, the daughter with autism, is going to school for the first time ever. She is attending Bridge View, and loves it. Every morning, she is up early waiting for the school bus. She is deeply passionate about music. Whenever any kind of music is playing, she can be heard quietly singing along.

“Everybody deserves to have a good life. When somebody is in good hands, they always must think about his brother. This is America. We have to stand up together.”

This indomitable family has traveled far and overcome overwhelming adversity. They still face many challenges, but the family is committed to becoming successful in the United States.

Institute staff provided important assistance during this family’s transition to the United States, and with your support, we can continue to partner with them for years to come. Ahead are first jobs, college enrollments, promotions, graduations, and applications for citizenship. You can be a part of their future success by making a donation to the International Institute of Minnesota today.