Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HOPE FUND; after Fleeing Libya, Then Leaving Egypt, Sudan Native Feels Safe Abdalla Seeks Certifications So He Can Use His Computer Science Degree to Earn

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HOPE FUND; after Fleeing Libya, Then Leaving Egypt, Sudan Native Feels Safe Abdalla Seeks Certifications So He Can Use His Computer Science Degree to Earn

Article excerpt

Byline: Kasandra Ortiz

It was a secondhand, brown Land Cruiser - packed with 15 other people - that pulled up to take Muhammad Abdalla, his wife and daughter to Libya a few years ago.

It was a land that they thought would be safer than their hometown of Daruf in Sudan, a country ravaged by civil war.

After raising more than $300 in one month with the help of his tribe, Abdalla waited with his family for the car to come take them away. His daughter was only 3 months old. He and his wife, Rowda Ali, had been married just 10 months.

While the money had already been handed over to the smugglers who had agreed to take the family to Libya, he had very little information about the escape.

"I wasn't afraid," Abdalla said, "because if you die in the desert [of Libya], it's better than dying in the city of Daruf."

Five days later, the family arrived at a farm in eastern Libya. Finally, Abdalla thought, they were safe.

But they weren't.

The Arab Spring - which saw citizens in several Arab countries rise up against their totalitarian leaders - raged across Libya, as well. After seven months of surviving the civil war in that country, Abdalla knew it was time to leave that unsettled land, as well.

Again, Abdalla and his family had to pay to be transported to safety - this time in Egypt, where they stayed in a refugee camp and began efforts to settle in the United States. Then one day, Abdalla received noticed that he and his family would indeed be able to emigrate to a city in the United States.

The city? Jacksonville. A place, in fact, that Abdalla already knew well.

"One of my relatives from my same tribe lived here in Jacksonville for 15 years," he said with a laugh. "And my friend at the camp in Egypt told me about Jacksonville, and that it was a good place. …

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