by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future, but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.
Discussion questions from SOMN
- How did reading this book impact your thinking on refugees? Had you ever read a fiction or non-fiction book about life as a refugee before?
- Which person from the story do you relate to the most and why?
- What was the saddest part of the story for you? What was the happiest?
- Did you know this story was based on Omar’s real life experiences as you were reading it? How does this knowledge impact you and your experience of the book?
- Is going to school worth the sacrifices that Omar makes? Why or why not?
- Who are the helpers in Ifo camp? How do they help Omar? Who are the helpers in your community and how do they help? Are you a helper?
- Omar’s brother Hassan, like many kids in the camp, has very different opportunities in Dadaab than he does in America. Read the Author’s Note and discuss the ways in which Hassan’s life is different in America. Do you think things are better, worse, or about the same for him? Why? How about Omar?
Classroom activities from SOMN
- Watch this video interview with the author and illustrator and discuss as a class afterwards.
- Examine a map of East Africa. Locate some of the places from the book: Mareerey, Somalia, and the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya, then watch this video tour of the camp, and this video tour of the Ifo Market.
- Visit Refugee Strong to learn more about the non-profit that Omar started to help refugees in Dadaab.
- Listen to this Frontline Kid’s Special about life in the Dadaab Refugee Camp