The first seven years of Dekow Sagar’s life in Somalia were happy. Rural Somalia was beautiful, he had plenty of brothers, sisters and friends to play with, and the family farm provided what they needed. However, Sagar’s pleasant rural life was shattered by terrible violence and civil war.
On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Sagar about his memoir, Life In Exile: The Untold Story of Civil War and Refugee Life, in which he details his experience fleeing home, growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp for 16 years, and finally immigrating to the United States.
"[Refugees] come to this country with great optimism and hope," says Sagar. "The general assumption oftentimes is that refugees are people who want to suck the blood out of the system. Well, no one really wants a handout; people want to be self-sufficient and independent. But, I think the best thing that we can do for refugees is acceptance."
Sagar moved to Des Moines in 2007. Since his arrival he has pursued two graduate degrees and has worked hard to help other refugees. Today he is employed by Lutheran Family Services based in Omaha and the Sioux City area as the program coordinator for 5000 refugees and victims of human trafficking.
Later in the program, Nebbe talks with three Des Moines area high school students about what it was like to move to a new country, learn a new language and start a new life. They were all part of the Drake University Community Research Summer Scholars Program. Excerpts from their podcasts are posted here.