Quick link: You Can’t Go Home Again

you can't go home again

A family in transit through Djibouti opened up their experiences to me and EthnoTraveler published this story, recounting their perilous journey through bullets and oceans to find a place they could call ‘home.’ This is the story of an American man trying to get his family to safety, but also to a future: work, school, stability.

In March of 2015, Ibrahim crammed his wife and nine kids, along with a few belongings, into a car and raced out of the Yemeni city of al-Dhale as it crumbled around them. Fighting in the region between forces loyal to the former president (Ali Abdullah Saleh) and those loyal to the sitting president (Abed Rabbuh Mansur Hadi) had spilled into the city streets. At one point, Ibrahim was forced to drive through the center of a gun battle. Bullets zipped around the car as his wife and children huddled as low as possible.

They hoped to find a way out of Yemen at the port city of Aden. But first they had to pass through a checkpoint. Houthi soldiers, fighting for Saleh, manned the blockades and demanded to see paperwork, reports, anything that could prove Ibrahim and his family were simply civilians fleeing for their safety.

Ibrahim, a Yemen-born American citizen who had moved back to Yemen a few years earlier to help take care of his extended family, handed a soldier his navy blue American passport and the Houthi man immediately became suspicious.

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Overall, the family was happy with the help they received from Djibouti and from the United States as they made their journey. It took a long time and wasn’t easy, but they are ready to invest in their next location and I wish them all the best. I hope their new neighbors will welcome them well. I hope they will try to imagine what life has been like for this family and what their hopes and dreams might be for the future in the US.

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