By Tahjah Belcher
Abdalla Mukoma moved to the Lansing area in 2004, he is the President of the Lansing Somali Bantu Organization. The Association, located on Michigan Ave. in Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood, is a gathering place for twenty-seven families of Somali Bantu refugees who live across the Lansing area. The organization was established in 2008 due to the amount of kids who were dropping out of school. Abdalla worried that, because their parents hadn’t gone to school in Somalia, they didn’t understand the importance of getting an education. So, when he and a few others brought the issue to the attention of other refugee parents in the community, they discovered that the children would have homework assigned in their classes but lacked motivation to do the work. Abdalla and his community decided to help the children with their homework by creating after school programs, and the LSBO developed from there.
The non-profit organization now also focuses on English as a Second Language classes for adults, so parents can better communicate with their children about school. They provide transportation to the center, offer workshops in job training skills like resume writing and computer skills, and host a women’s health education group. They have career placement and life skills classes to support the community members on their journey to thriving in America. Abdulla is very active in his community and believes that the Eastside neighborhood is “a safe area” and overall “a nice place to live,” a welcome respite from the civil war and refugee camps he left behind in Africa.