Trapped in Nairobi, woman’s life crumbles

From the Toronto Star

Aug 04, 2009 04:30 AM

Staff Reporter

For the longest time, Suaad Hagi Mohamud didn’t dream. As a single mother in a new country, she had her hands more than full.

When she learned English and got a steady job, she started thinking about the future. She wanted a two-bedroom condo in a nice neighbourhood, some money in the bank for her son’s college and maybe – just maybe – a small car.

Three months ago, just as she was starting to dream, she went to Nairobi to see her mother.

She is still there and her life here in Toronto is quickly falling apart.

Her rent has not been paid in three months, her credit card bills are accumulating interest, her phone, Internet and cable connections have been cut off. She hasn’t earned a penny in three months and she is worried she may not have a job when she returns.

"I know my employers like me and I think my job will still be there when I return but I am still worried," said Mohamud from her Nairobi hotel. "Everything I’ve worked for seems to be disappearing."

The 31-year-old’s life came to a standstill on May 21 at the Nairobi airport, where she intended to take a flight back to Toronto. She was detained for not looking like her four-year-old passport photo and spent eight days in jail.

Mohamud, her son and her ex-husband’s DNA samples were taken last week and results are expected some time early next week.

Meanwhile, she is watching her life crumble.

Mohamud lies awake late at night wondering if she will ever be able to pick up the pieces. "I was hoping to move to a better neighbourhood soon," she said. She lives in a low-rise with her son, 12-year-old Mohamed Abscir, near the Lawrence Square Mall in North York. Their two-bedroom apartment on the second floor costs $541 a month.

Right now, she’s broke. The money she brought from Canada went to a Nairobi lawyer and other expenses related to her case.

Her Toronto lawyer, Raoul Boulakia, sent her some money so she could move to a safer hotel with Internet service. "She has a huge financial problem," he said. "She will have a lot of catching up to do."

ATS courier company is holding Mohamud’s job as an overnight mid-level supervisor at its Toronto sorting plant. "She is welcome back at work; we’re looking forward to having her back," vice-president Bob Brogan said last week.


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