Saturday October 23, 2021
By Ronald Zajac
Nasro Mohamed holds up an image of her young daughter, Afnaan, during an interview on Friday.(RONALD ZAJAC/The Recorder and Times) jpg, BT
When Nasro Mohamed left Uganda for Brockville, her young daughter was only 10 months old.
Since then, she had had to watch her grow up from a distance, during periodic video calls, as the young Somali refugee and her family endure an agonizingly slow permanent residency approval process.
“It’s so hard to stay all by myself because I miss my daughter and my husband,” Mohamed, 26, said Friday in an interview at Brockville’s First Presbyterian Church, which is helping with the resettlement and family unification process.
Mohamed has been living alone in Canada since late October 2019, while her husband, Liibaan, and young daughter Afnaan remain stuck in Uganda awaiting a chance to join her here.
The weekly video chats bring her joy, but at the same time it is difficult to watch Afnaan, who will turn three next year, grow up a continent away.
“She can’t hug me,” she said. “I can’t explain (to her) how I’m far from her.”
The Brockville Freedom Connection (BFC), a local refugee sponsorship group, has been working in partnership with First Presbyterian Church, and the locals are frustrated by the slow pace of the process.
“We’re trying to bring this family together. This little girl needs her mother. This woman need her husband,” said First Presbyterian minister Rev. Marianne Emig Carr.
Nasro Mohamed’s refugee ordeal began eight years ago when, at age 18, she fled the violence of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. Both her father and brother were killed in a bombing in that troubled city. Nasro fled to Uganda.
She ended up marrying Liibaan while part of the lengthy refugee process, complicating matters and resulting in her coming to Canada alone.
She is now employed at The Score downtown and works hard to send money to her family in Uganda.
In an interview last year, BFC members estimated it could take until late 2021 before her husband and daughter can make it to Brockville.
But despite their best efforts and what locals consider an ironclad case for Mohamed’s family to be granted a permanent residency visa like her, there has been little or no progress on the case.
“We’re hearing crickets,” said Carr.
Nancy Cassie, chairwoman of the BFC, said the group is ratcheting up its efforts. It has now teamed up with the Rural Refugee Rights Network, which has helped reunite other refugee families, and will soon be launching a petition on Change.org.
“We need to reunite this family,” said Cassie.
A year ago, it was understandable that the COVID-19 pandemic was delaying the process, but at this point that appears a less valid reason, said Cassie.
“They say COVID, but I’ve seen refugees come in that applied before,” added Cassie.
Meanwhile, the time has been long for Nasro, who rooms in a local home and finds herself unable to socialize or even eat properly because of the anxiety of waiting.
“I hope one day they will come. I really miss them, for sure,” she said.
“Kids need their mom.”