The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has publish a feel-good story about how successfully Somali Bantus are settling in to Wisconsin. You can read the opening yourself about one boy who becomes the first Somali in Wisconsin to go to college. We are told that he changed his last name from Mursal to Mohamad.
The article follows with some nuggets of information on the program with a reference to Catholic Charities role in the resettlement.
According to the state’s Department of Children and Families, the first wave of Somali refugees began arriving in 1995. Since then the federal government has resettled approximately 700 Somali in Wisconsin, primarily in Brown, Barron, Dane and Milwaukee counties.
The largest population — about 400 people —lives in Milwaukee, said Joe Scialfa, communications director for DCF.
But Ussuf Mursal, Mohamad’s brother, who works at Catholic Social Services refugee program, thinks the actual number is considerably larger. He estimates as many as 1,300 Somalis are now living here.
There are about 250 families, he said, and most families have five or more children. For example, he said, he now has six children and his ex-wife has 11 children, including two of his. [I’m wondering if the ex-wife is an ex so that she can receive welfare benefits as a single mother?—ed]
With such large families, providing the necessary support is a strain, he said. And because so many Somali Bantu did not go to school, passing the U.S. citizenship test presents a problem. Still, many are getting established, buying homes and starting businesses.
Another Somali is quoted:
“We came here for security, education and a better life,” he said. He has 13 children, some grown, some who attend Riverside High School or Milwaukee Area Technical College.
And, he supports them all at his newly acquired halal grocery store.
Go here for more on Catholic Charities and refugees in Milwaukee. Lutheran Social Services is their main competitor for contracts with the US State Department to bring refugees to this part of Wisconsin.
Graphic is from the Journal-Sentinel story.