Somali Community Association of Ohio

From Ohio History Central

The Somali Community Association of Ohio provides assistance to Somali migrants in Central Ohio.

People from Somalia were one of the last national groups to immigrate to the United States. By 2008, approximately forty-five thousand Somalis resided in the Central Ohio area. These immigrants began to arrive during the 1990s. Following the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, political turmoil and violence characterized Somalia, prompting thousands of people to flee this nation. Many of these people came to the United States, including Ohio, hoping to live peaceful and productive lives.

Despite the dreams of the Somali migrants, life proved to be difficult for many of them. In 2008, only seven percent of the adult Somalis in Central Ohio spoke English well enough to secure employment. Fifteen percent of the Somalis had become American citizens, with an additional seventy-five percent eligible for citizenship. Most Somalis migrated to the United States with their entire families, with the average Somali household in Central Ohio having seven or eight members. The more successful Somalis were those who became fluent in the English language. Some Somali residents survived by producing traditional products for their fellow Somalis. Many Somalis in the United States sent portions of their wages to family members still in Somalia.

Further complicating acceptance of the Somalis among traditional Ohioans were the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. More than ninety-nine percent of the Somali immigrants were Islamic. Following the terrorist attacks, many Americans questioned the loyalty of Muslims. Some Americans even engaged in hate crimes against Muslims, and discrimination against and skepticism towards Muslims still occurs at the time of this writing, almost seven years after the terrorist attacks. Despite these obstacles, Somalis continue to migrate to the United States and to Central Ohio, hoping to improve their lives.

To assist Somalis, in 1996, the Somali Community Association of Ohio formed. This organization provided guidance to new arrivals in securing housing and employment. The group also helped provide educational opportunities and access to health care to the refugees. The Somali Community Association of Ohio also assisted Somalis by providing a support system for these new immigrants. The ultimate goal of the Somali Community Association of Ohio is to help Somali Ohioans lead productive lives.

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