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F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2
flown to processing locations else-
where en route to resettlement in
third countries. She looked
slightly askance at the request,
since it did not involve a resettle-
ment case, but said she would
make an exception given the cir-
Keeping My Promise
With all of the pieces coming together, I contacted
Ibrahim at his UNHCR outpost in eastern Ethiopia and
asked him to arrange for the flight. Coordinating with
ICRC, he managed to get Aisha and her uncle to Addis,
where the IOM arranged shelter and disbursed a small
food allowance during their stay. ICRC fitted her with
a prosthesis and provided therapy and training before
she returned to the camp on a UNHCR flight.
About a year later, I again traveled to the camp where
I had first met Aisha. Ibrahim ac-
companied me during my tour of
the facility. Although conditions
there remained Spartan, they had
also improved slightly.
Ibrahim was happy to report
that Aisha had married another So-
mali refugee, had enrolled in a mi-
crocredit course, and was now
running her own small sundries shop in the camp. The
first year with the prosthesis had been tough, but Aisha
had persisted in overcoming daily obstacles.
Ibrahim asked if I wanted to meet her again, to see
and hear how her life had changed. I thought it over for
a while before declining.
I was satisfied just knowing that with the weight of
the U.S. government behind me, and with the help of
my UNHCR, ICRC and IOM partners, I had been able
to keep my promise to Aisha.
I was satisfied just
knowing that, with
a lot of help, I had been
able to keep my promise.