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No Room For Failure

(by Hani Malaika M)

At the age of 16, I left home in Toronto, Canada, to pursue a career in the music industry. I vaguely remember packing and leaving, determined not to be like my mother.

My mother made the decision that our family leave home in Somalia to escape the civil war there. She sent me on a plane with a relative to Kenya, where we landed illegally, and I was thrown in jail at the age of five. I was lucky to find my aunt in the jail, and she took care of me until we were relocated to the Deca refugee camp. (Sadly, that camp is still in operation, filled with my people.)

In 1992, my mother, two brothers, and I sought asylum in Canada. I was nine. I felt ashamed and embarrassed by the hardship of an immigrant single parent. All my friends had a closet full of clothes, and mine remained mostly empty, filled with ‘90s boy band posters but only dreams of filling the shelves to the brim.