The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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June 15, 2001 Issue
Local News

Just in time for Father's Day

Somalian couple reunited after 19 months -- and birth of daughter

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Not even a 75-minute flight delay could dampen the spirits of Mohamed Hashi as he awaited the arrival of his wife, Tasabeeh, and daughter, Anoud, last Thursday at Austin Straubel Airport in Green Bay.

Mohamed, a native of Somalia, had not seen Tasabeeh in 19 months, and had only seen Anoud, who was born on March 24, 2000, in photographs.

"I am anxious," he said. "I didn't sleep much last night. I had to switch my work shift so I could be here. It has been too long. I hope she (Anoud) doesn't cry when she sees me."

"I am used to living with my wife," he continued. "I hope my daughter doesn't look at me and think 'who is this strange person.'"

The Diocese of Green Bay sponsored Mohamed's arrival in the United States from Cairo in October of 1999. His papers had likely been processed before his marriage.

"It's risky to get out of line when these rare refugee numbers come up, so the couple decided he would come on ahead and she would follow later," explained Barbara Biebel, diocesan director of Resettlement and Immigration Services, formerly Refugee, Migration and Hispanic Services.

Tasabeeh, who is originally from Sudan, learned she was pregnant after her husband departed. Soon after Mohamed arrived in Green Bay, So Thao, refugee services coordinator for Resettlement and Immigration Services, helped him complete his family reunification papers. While Tasabeeh was approved to join Mohamed in Wisconsin, the paperwork did not include Anoud. A separate process was necessary for his daughter.

"It was supposed to end in December or January, but they said 'your daughter needs a visa,'" said Mohamed, who once worked as a radio announcer in Cairo. "Congressman Mark Green was very, very helpful in making it go faster. I appreciate his help and thank him. His office made it go much quicker."

Mohamed had studied English and maintenance engineering as a student in Cairo under the sponsorship of the United Nations. Seeking a better opportunity, he requested resettlement in a different country. He was given the choice of the United States, Canada or Australia.

"I chose the United States because it was a much faster process than the other countries," he said.

While in Green Bay, Mohamed has worked part-time as a case manager for Resettlement and Immigration Services in addition to holding a full-time position at Green Bay Dressed Beef.

"The people need to understand what is going on," said Mohamed in reference to his work as a case manager. "They don't speak English, so they won't sign papers to get themselves assistance. I help them understand by interpreting for them. My time is limited with my other job, so I help when I am able to."

Mohamed, who speaks Somalian, Arabic and English, enjoys helping others.

"When I got here, I volunteered to do it before I was offered a part-time job," he said. "It is difficult for the people when they don't speak English."

Surrounded by friends and co-workers, Mohamed made his way to the airport window to watch the passengers exit the plane which had arrived from Chicago. Tasabeeh and Anoud emerged from the plane to the cheers of the crowd. Mohamed embraced his wife and daughter as they entered the airport.

"This is a day I will not forget," he said. "We will be going home to rest. I usually work on weekends, but not this weekend. This is a family weekend."

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