by Chandelis R. Duster, NBCBLK

When Deeqo Jibril came to America at 12 years old, she couldn’t speak English. She had never seen snow. She had nothing but the clothes on her back.

In 1991, her family fled the civil war in Somalia and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya before starting a new life in Boston, Massachusetts with a few belongings. It was a big adjustment for her and she didn’t know what her new life would bring, but she hoped it would be better.

Today, at 38, she could make history as the first Muslim elected to the Boston City Council, representing District 7.

A single mother of four, she went from temp agency to temp agency looking for jobs to make ends meet. She started working for the health department in Boston and worked in affordable housing. By helping other families, she found tools and resources to help her own family.

Now the founder of an African mall that is home to six local businesses in the Roxbury area, she is also an activist in her community, working to ensure other refugees and immigrants have opportunities.

“How many other women are going through [that] do not have the experiences or the training that I have?” said Jibril. “That don’t have, you know, somebody that they can lean to?”

She created the Somali Community and Cultural Association to empower Somali women and provide resources for those transitioning into American society while maintaining their culture. She has also held financial literacy programs to teach immigrants and Somali women how to manage their money.

Having her voice be counted as a woman is crucial but the process was something she had to learn about.

“We came from a country where we can’t vote. We have to learn democracy, women’s rights and ability to vote. Democracy is new to us,” she said.

Read the entire story here.

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