|Author||Dekow Diriye Sagar|
Life in Exile: The Untold Story of Civil War and Refugee Life is the moving memoir of Dekow Diriye Sagar. The author shares his fascinating tale of growing up in a rural village in Southern Somalia, his terrifying escape of the civil war in the 1990s, and his life in the United States after being resettled. The war in Somalia has claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives, and forced millions of citizens to seek safety and security in refugee camps and flee into exile. Sagar describes in detail his “immigrant story” which began in his home village, on the outskirts of Bardere, in 1991 when he just turned seven years old. In one horrific day, the author lost his home and many loved ones and began the journey that brought him to the United States 15 years later. The author illuminates the excruciating journey from his village to the Kenya-Somali border. He walked over 300 miles with little to eat or drink except scarce wild fruits and dirty water. The family endured the high heat of the day and the cold, blustery wind and rain of the night. After over a month of walking, the author and his family finally reached the Kenya–Somalia border where they were accepted and registered as refugees. Being raised by affluent parents, the author had lived a quality life, so adjusting to refugee life was extremely difficult. The food was inadequate, poor, and insufficient, and shelter was a hot cloth tent with no electricity or running water. Sagar and his family persevered through many daunting challenges with resilience, creativity, and initiative. Sagar attended school in Dadaab. He eventually secured a job with an international aid organization, MSF (Doctors without Borders), as a community health worker in the Hagadera Refugee Camp at the age of 16, becoming the youngest employee to work for a humanitarian organization in Dadaab. In 2007, Sagar was resettled as a refugee in the United States. He discusses the challenges he faced while adjusting to his new life, such as navigating the complex health and human service system, transportation, education, employment, as well as overcoming the overwhelming culture shock and isolation. Coming from a tropical region of the world to below zero winter temperatures was especially grim. The author pursued his education by attending university at night, beginning just a few months after arriving in the United States. Despite all responsibilities, his academic goals and grades never suffered. Dekow graduated from Grand View University in Iowa, with double degrees in Human Services and Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration. He earned a Masters of Public Policy and Administration from Drake University and an MBA from West Texas A&M University, respectively. Sagar elaborates the challenges and barriers refugee families face—such as language and cultural barriers, culture shock, and the difficulties of navigating the complex system as they try to acclimate to the American way of life. He conveys over 16 years of experience both as a service recipient and service provider and the relevant double perspectives and insights. Life in Exile: The Untold Story of Civil War and Refugee Life is a must-read for professionals in areas of healthcare, human services, education, and research. The book is ideal for both graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in political science, social work, health, education, leadership, and management, as well as for service providers in refugee and immigrant programs. The book captures Sagar’s journey in order to deepen the reader’s understanding of a refugee’s challenges and also to equip the reader to serve this population.