Returning to his roots

Jama Mohammed has a passion to serve the community he grew up in.

Jama Mohammed has a passion to serve the community he grew up in.

City Heights offered Jama Mohammed and his family a chance at a new life in the United States. Now Mohammed is returning the favor in his adopted neighborhood as the new organizer for Mid-City CAN’s Access to Healthcare Momentum Team.

Mohammed and his family had to flee Somalia because of a tribal feud. A round from a rocket launcher blasted through their home as they packed up their car en route to Kenya. Their journey included a seven-year stay in a refugee camp while waiting to be accepted into the United States. While waiting to immigrate here, his family faced many dangers, including fleeing vengeful Kenyans and his mother’s kidnapping and escape.

“The day that she finally escaped and met up with us at the refugee camp, she was smiling. I remember her smile most of all,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed moved to San Diego when he was 9 years old. The transition to a new language and culture was difficult, but it taught Mohammed to take nothing for granted.

“Coming from that background with those experiences reminds me that no matter how much I struggle I can succeed and do something with my life. Those experiences drove me to be where I’m at today.”

Mohammed, a San Diego State University graduate, first started working at Mid-City CAN years ago as an interpreter, working on Access to Healthcare, Improving Transportation, and Food Justice momentum teams. The Access to Healthcare Momentum Team’s mission statement describes a commitment to fighting for “accessible services delivered in an environment that reflects the culturally and linguistically diverse needs of the community.”

The Mid-City Community Action Network works with residents and community partners to effect change in the community. In 2009, Mid-City CAN entered into a 10-year partnership with The California Endowment in the Building Healthy Communities Initiative with the goal of improving community health in City Heights.

“I spent my young days providing for others. Having that passion to serve. I think that’s what led me to work here to have to the opportunity to give back to my community,” said Mohammed, who volunteers to teach children Aramaic at the Masjid Al-Huda Community Center.

Mohammed said it all comes down to passion.

“Having that passion to serve. I think that’s what led me to work here, to have the opportunity to give back to my community,” he said. “It’s a strength to have someone who is so connected to tradition and language. I saw the work Mid-City CAN was doing, so many things for the community, and I just want to be a part of that.”