In 2014, Fartuun was living in a refugee camp in Egypt and about to embark on her journey to the United States. At that time, she had been living in the Egyptian camp for five years after fleeing Somalia and its civil war in 2001. When fleeing Somalia, she was separated from her mother and extended family and due to the confusing nature of refugee camps and the lack of communication available, it would be another 13 years before they reconnected and she had confirmation that her mother was alive and well.
She and her husband were married in 2006 and she gave birth to their son later that year. In 2007, when their son was six months old, they were separated once again. During this time, Fartuun did not know whether her husband was alive or dead and it would be another seven years before she learned he had survived. After they reconnected in 2014 (shortly before her journey to the US), she waited another 3 years until he was able to join her in the United States in 2017. When he arrived in the United States in 2017 it was the first time they had seen each other in person since being separated in 2007.
Unfortunately, not all of her extended family have been able to join her in South Dakota. Her youngest sister and nephew are still living in the same Egyptian refugee camp where Fartuun spent so many years, and she sends a portion of her paycheck to them every month so they can buy necessities that are not provided in the camp. Her sister and nephew are patiently waiting for their immigration application to be processed and they hope to join Fartuun in Sioux Falls soon.
When Fartuun originally fled Somalia, she brought with her young son, who is now 14 years old and attending Roosevelt High School. She is quick to praise his teachers and the school’s leadership and says he loves his experience there and everyone is welcoming to him. It couldn’t be more different than her experience of studying for and receiving her high school diploma while in the Egyptian refugee camp, but she is so happy that her son gets to have a typical American high school experience.
When she came to the United States in 2014, she immediately started looking for work. After receiving her work visa, she got a job working in the housekeeping department at Sanford Hospital and has been a team member there for four years! Fartuun is a practicing Muslim and says that her employer is very welcoming and supportive of all faiths; they even provide private rooms for their staff to use throughout the day during prayer times.
While Fartuun loves her job, she felt called to take her career in the medical field further and began studying to be a certified phlebotomist. In May of 2021 she graduated with her phlebotomy certificate and decided to continue moving towards her CNA license. She is on track with her studies and hopes to graduate in December of this year and find a job in Sioux Falls as a Certified Nurse Aide.
When she's not working at Sanford or playing with her son, Fartuun loves to eat chocolate ice cream from Dairy Queen and watch NCIS. We see bright things in her future, and the Multi-Cultural Center will be there to support her every step of the way!