I have hundreds of friends across the globe, most of them here in America. They call me a radio celeb, a good human being, a real friend. It is all because of my story. Four years ago, I was living in a displacement camp in Somalia where my mother and three of my siblings lived in a makeshift tent with thousands of other families where diseases, wars and droughts had licked through. One of my sisters died instantly from cholera. Our yelp has never been answered; we were on our own. At times, death was a choice for so many, but it was not for me. I wanted to live to tell my story. I fled to Kenya looking for a safe place. I joined half a million other Somalis living there as a refugee. I graduated from being a locally displaced refugee to an international refugee living outside of Somalia. The struggle for daily survival was real even in Kenya. No one wanted to give us food or shelter. I had to do everything I could to survive, including hawking or selling shoes on the dusty roads. I had to reconstruct my identity, from being a Somali to being a homeless refugee. We were locally known in Kenya as ATM machines, as the Kenyan police robbed us every day of whatever cash we carried with us. To them, we were the lifeless human beings to which they could do anything and everything, and no one ever said anything to them, even if they shot us. I immigrated to the U.S. in late 2014. I got new names: a legal alien, an immigrant, an African. But whatever they call me, I am driving, sleeping in a warm bed, sending money to my family.

Create your photo Tell your story