It all started in a Tim Horton’s
In April 2008 Abdi Ahmed, Abdirizak Adam and Muuxi Adam, three Somali- born refugees who met in Winnipeg, sat together at a common Canadian meeting place—the local Tim Horton’s coffee shop—to talk about an important event in Muuxi’s life. He had just returned from a trip to Ethiopia where he was reunited with his mom. His two friends who had become Muuxi’s substitute family, were curious and eager for details. After sharing news of the happy reunion, the conversation changed when Muuxi talked about all the kids he had seen living in poverty with no school to go to. These kids were sad and bored. The three men felt strongly that this was not right, but were unsure what they could do to help. They decided that although it would be very difficult to help they needed to do it anyway.
Abdi, Abdirizak and Muuxi all believed strongly in equality and human rights for all. They felt a large part of this was the right to education. They wanted to put their beliefs into action and find a way to make a difference together. They chose to focus their efforts on building a school for the children of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya because it is close to the Somali border and a common destination for many Somalis who have fled. The camp has become severely overcrowded. Both Abdis had lived in Dadaab for a period in their lives and knew it well. They agreed to make their commitment a priority regardless of their other responsibilities like family, school and work.
They knew from prior experience working at Oxfam and UNHCR that they wanted a grass roots approach. They investigated how to formalize an organization and when they learned that just three people were needed, they felt it was a good sign.The three friends were each from different ethnic groups in Somalia—a place that has been torn apart by tribal-based violence, yet they had a close friendship. They wanted a name for their organization that reflected their friendship. They chose Humankind International.