Naima Mohamed was born in Somalia during a period of civil war. Men were being forced to fight, many women were at risk of being assaulted and a number of children were abandoned in the streets as people fled the conflict.
When Ms. Mohamed was 6 months old, her family sought refuge in Kenya, where they lived for 15 years. “I felt very helpless,” she said of her years in the refugee camp. “People were often desperate to meet basic needs.”
In conjunction with World Refugee Day on Monday, June 20, LDS Philanthropies — which facilitates philanthropic support for charities affiliated with the Church — released a new video featuring Ms. Mohamed, who recounts the above experiences.
The video comes as part of a continued emphasis by the Church to reach out to refugees. In the wake of the recent migrant crisis throughout the Middle East and Europe, the First Presidency issued a letter in October 2015 to members of the Church encouraging them to donate to the Church Humanitarian Fund and inviting them to participate in local relief projects. Then in March 2016, the First Presidency and the general women’s auxiliary presidencies invited the women of the Church to participate in the “I Was a Stranger” refugee relief effort.
Becca Bentley-Mila, creative director for LDS Philanthropies, said releasing the new video on the international observance on June 20 served as an opportunity not only to remember the plight of the refugee, but also for members to consider the messages of the First Presidency.
LDS Philanthropies came across Ms. Mohamed's story when working with Catholic Relief Services as well as the Department of Workforce Services. "Naima’s story is just one of many. It illustrates the depth of goodness and the unconquerable spirit that is universal and God-given,” Sister Bentley-Mila said.
Looking through the lens of a refugee like Ms. Mohamed can help individuals recognize commonalities. Sister Bentley-Mila said when talking with Ms. Mohamed and her husband she realized they had the same dreams for their two young children as she did for hers. “The more we learn about refugees, the more we see ourselves in them,” she said.
In the video, Ms. Mohamed describes feeling “frightened” and “lost” after being resettled in the United States and being placed in a formal education setting for the first time. Volunteers and teachers, however, mentored her and her sister. Eventually, she attended the University of Utah where she received her bachelor’s degree and later her master’s degree. She now works as a social worker helping other refugees transition into a new country and a new culture.
The title of the video is “Be the Someone.” Just as Ms. Mohamed was blessed by mentors and now serves as a mentor to others, “We hope the message inspires people to make a difference, to ‘be the someone,’ ” Sister Bentley-Mila explained.
In the video, Ms. Mohamed tells viewers they can make a difference in a refugee’s life by being a friend or a mentor. “Show that you care,” she said.
“It doesn’t take a lot to ‘be the someone,’ ” Sister Bentley-Mila said. Both large and seemingly insignificant contributions can make a difference in someone’s life. “It’s considering where you are in the world and where your neighbor is and how you can come together.”
The “Be the Someone” video is available on LDS Philanthropies’ website and Facebook page as well as on Mormon Newsroom and the Mormon Channel.
Sister Bentley-Mila said they hope to share more refugee stories with the “Be the Someone” theme. “The need is so great, it will continue to be an emphasis,” she said.
How to help
Members of the Church may help refugees by:
- Volunteering labor hours at bishops' storehouses, welfare farms, canneries or other Welfare Services projects.
- Donating useful items to Deseret Industries.
- Making generous fast offering contributions.
- Donating through the "Tithing and Other Offerings" form by marking the category "Humanitarian Aid."
- Reviewing the list of ways to help from Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities.
- Visiting "I was a stranger" website.
- Donating through LDS Philanthropies. Call 1-800-525-8074 or see give.lds.org/be-the-someone.