The first program in Against the Odds is, “Ivy League Refugee,” which tells the story of Abass Hassan Mohamed, born in war-torn Somalia, who escaped to a refugee camp in Kenya. Nurtured by faith acquired from his father in the transformative power of learning, Mohamed struggled to educate himself, eventually achieving test scores that placed him among the top students in Kenya. His abilities caught the attention of an American professor traveling in the area, who encouraged him to apply to Princeton University—where Mohaned is now a junior.
We take listeners to Dadaab, the camp where Mohamed grew up, to meet the young man’s teachers and parents. We also visit with Mohamed at Princeton, documenting the incredible transition he has made — from sharing a one-room shack and an outdoor toilet with his entire family, to succeeding at one of the most prestigious and demanding universities in the world.
Mohamed’s story invites listeners to consider several issues: educational mobility, warehousing of refugees, the status of women in Somali culture, and the prospects for improving life outcomes for those without social advantage.
“Ivy League Refugee,” aired on over 200 public radio stations in 2008.
In this slideshow we take a look at children being educated in the Daadab, Kenya refugee camp.
In this slideshow we explore the lives of woman in the Daadab, Kenya refugee camp.