Skip to main content

Search the Special Collections and Archives Portal

Transcript of interview with Mahamed Youssouf by Barbara Tabach, August 6, 2013 & August 13, 2013






Ethiopian business owner Mahamed Youssouf became an American citizen in 1986. Born in Harar, Ethiopia, he recalls the hardships he had to endure during the Ethiopia-Somalia conflict. Coming from a family of tailors, he began making clothes with his father at a very early age. Mahamed’s recollections concerning his journey from political refugee to successful businessman demonstrates his resilience and determination to overcome obstacles and achieve his goals. Mahamed moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1985, where he rented a storefront in North Las Vegas. The name of his store was Uniform Plus and he focused mainly on making children’s clothes. His efforts proved lucrative as he began buying wholesale in Los Angeles, California, and selling clothes in Las Vegas on the weekends at the outdoor Swap Meet. After a fateful encounter, Mahamed became business partners with Eugene Hoffman, owner of Village East Cleaners. Mahamed firmly believes that communication is the key to socio-economic success. He views education as an investment and states that, “to have dialogue means better relationships.” When the Ethiopian government was overthrown, Mahamed returned home to Africa for a visit. He met his wife while there, got married, and started a family. Mahamed returned to America and bought a family home in Las Vegas. He dedicated his time to teaching his American born children more about Ethiopian culture and taught himself more about American culture— including the African-American experience in Las Vegas, racism, the Moulin Rouge, and the Westside.

Digital ID


Physical Identifier



Youssouf, Mahamed Interview, 2013 August 6 & 13. OH-02143. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


This material is made available to facilitate private study, scholarship, or research. It may be protected by copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity rights, or other interests not owned by UNLV. Users are responsible for determining whether permissions are necessary from rights owners for any intended use and for obtaining all required permissions. Acknowledgement of the UNLV University Libraries is requested. For more information, please see the UNLV Special Collections policies on reproduction and use ( or contact us at

Standardized Rights Statement

Digital Provenance

Digitized materials: physical originals can be viewed in Special Collections and Archives reading room





An Interview with Mahamed Youssouf An Oral History Conducted by Barbara Tabach African American Collaborative Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©African Americans in Las Vegas: A Collaborative Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2012 COMMUNITY PARTNERS Henderson Libraries Las Vegas Clark County Public Libraries Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries Wiener-Rogers Law Library at William S. Boyd School of Law, UNLV Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas Las Vegas National Bar Association Vegas PBS Clark County Museum Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Interviewers, Editors and Project Assistants: Barbara Tabach, Claytee D. White, Stefani Evans. iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the African Americans in Las Vegas: A Collaborative Oral History Project. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada Las Vegas iv Preface Ethiopian business owner Mahamed Youssouf became an American citizen in 1986. Born in Harar, Ethiopia, he recalls the hardships he had to endure during the Ethiopia-Somalia conflict. Coming from a family of tailors, he began making clothes with his father at a very early age. Mahamed’s recollections concerning his journey from political refugee to successful businessman demonstrates his resilience and determination to overcome obstacles and achieve his goals. Mahamed moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1985, where he rented a storefront in North Las Vegas. The name of his store was Uniform Plus and he focused mainly on making children’s clothes. His efforts proved lucrative as he began buying wholesale in Los Angeles, California, and selling clothes in Las Vegas on the weekends at the outdoor Swap Meet. After a fateful encounter, Mahamed became business partners with Eugene Hoffman, owner of Village East Cleaners. Mahamed firmly believes that communication is the key to socio-economic success. He views education as an investment and states that, “to have dialogue means better relationships.” When the Ethiopian government was overthrown, Mahamed returned home to Africa for a visit. He met his wife while there, got married, and started a family. Mahamed returned to America and bought a family home in Las Vegas. He dedicated his time to teaching his American born children more about Ethiopian culture and taught himself more about American culture— including the African-American experience in Las Vegas, racism, the Moulin Rouge, and the Westside. v Table of Contents Interview with Mahamed Youssouf August 6, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Barbara Tabach Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Recalls childhood in Harar during the Ethiopia-Somalia conflict; Came from a family of tailors; discusses the reign of Haile Selassie as the king of Ethiopia; the Russians invaded Ethiopia and enforced the communist agenda; recollects direct involvement in student protests and community organizing efforts; describes how he ended up in a refugee camp in Djibouti………………1 - 14 Finds work as a tailor in Djibouti; encourages and helps other refugees to find work; local government begins to arrest and torture refugees; Mahamed faced deportation from Djibouti; sought help from the American Embassy…………………………………………………...14 - 23 Recollects President Carter signing to accept the first group of political refugees from Africa into the United States; Mahamed left Djibouti for New York on September 23, 1980; describes being greeted at the airport by a United Nations delegate, an immigration officer, and the media; compares life in America to life back in Africa; moves to Las Vegas in 1985…..…………24 - 35 Rents a storefront in North Las Vegas; names the store Uniform Plus; makes children’s clothes; gains financial independence; buys clothes and materials wholesale in Los Angeles; sells clothes in Las Vegas on the weekends at the outdoor Swap Meet; becomes Eugene Hoffman’s business partner, owner of Village East Cleaners; becomes an American citizen in 1986..................35 - 56 Ethiopian government gets overthrown; Mahamed finally travels back to Africa to visit his family; he finds a wife while there, gets married, starts a family; buys a family home in Las Vegas; teaches himself more about American culture; learns more about racism, the African-American experience in Las Vegas, the Westside; mentions the Moulin Rouge ………......57 - 77 1 Good morning, “Mo.” Good morning, Barbara. Today is August sixth, 2013. We are sitting in our offices at Lied Library, Oral History Research Center at UNLV. If you would start by spelling your name for us that would be great. My first name is Mahamed, M-A-H-A-M-E-D. Last name is Youssouf, Y-O-U-S-S-O-U-F. I appreciate you being here. Thank you. You're an interesting businessperson in our community and you have a story of immigration that I think a lot of people would like to hear and we're really thankful that you're going to share that with us. Thank you. Yes, definitely, definitely. If you need to pause, let me know, or if you want a glass of water, I've got bottled there. So at any time we can stop this, is what I'm saying. But let's start at the beginning. You were born in? I was born in Harar, Ethiopia. Harar is the second largest city in Ethiopia. But early, like middle school, things changed because our country was ruled by a king for over a hundred years. In the mid-seventies, I was in middle school at that time and drought and other conflicts between Somalia and Eritrea raged. So, this issue created conflict. As a kid we had no idea because I was in school; when we heard about the conflict. When I was in the eighth grade the military captured the king and while he was imprisoned he died. From this point on until the 1990s the military was in charge and imposed their communist agenda on all the people. And the king's name, just so... 2 Haile Selassie. He's a famous— Haile Selassie was very famous for his leadership and negotiation skills. His leadership garnered him world-wide appeal and respect; especially in Africa, Europe, and the United States. The military overthrew the local government and imposed their will on the people; they were uneducated. They ruled by intimidation. As students we were hoping for positive change. We hoped that there would be elections. This did not happen even after many years of waiting. So, when I reached high school the first year—I was very active in my community. As a children we played soccer and other outdoor activities. Through middle school and high school I was very active with my teacher and with everybody else. So in that situation I knew a lot of educated people. We organized to protect what was occurring. We would skip school to protest. We were pushed back. We continued to protest year after year but nothing changed. If I can interrupt you, I want to make sure I understand. So this is starting when you were in your middle school years in the seventies and still going on in your— Until high school. Was there a particular leader of military faction? Actually, his name was Mengistu Haile. He is just—I mean the only thing that gave him the power is having a gun. No government experience, nothing. So when he came and took up power, the ideology was to spread the communist agenda. How do you spell his name? Haile, Mengistu Haile. All his concept is to have the power. Then suddenly his ideology changed to convert the country to communism. So now all of a sudden we realize we don't have no way to fight people with guns. So we 3 continued to organize. In my case, being active in the school and other things, a few of us, teachers and others brought us in to organize. They say when the rally come in they have to let a few students to do that. So I volunteered. Then in the city we would ask people to get out and speak and rally. So this situation increased, increased not only in my city, every other city. So the more people organized, the more government realized the only way to control it was to crush these people. In the beginning like normally in most third world countries they do, they throw water hose or shoot the gun in the air to chase us out. We went home; we come back the next day. Because of this things got worse—also, the government fighting the neighborhood war and the north war. So in the late, late seventies when we really, really intensified, they starting cracking everybody; put us in jail, keep us for a day or two. They let them go out; they didn't go out. So we experienced people disappearing. So the more they do, the more we organize. So we went underground, all the students, very strongly. In those days we don't have any networking. The only way to network was to make a pyramid chain, because everybody knew each other, to inform and to spread what we needed to do next. We were not allowed to carry any piece of paper. So we just told anyone underground. Later the people in control became desperate and invited the Russians in. Russia? Yes, Russian military. The Ethiopian government has always had good relations with the United States. I remember reading the paper in those days about Iran-Contra and other things affecting the United States. So they couldn't get help. So this guy, he's looking everywhere to get help. But Russia, they know this government was weak enough to need help. I woke up one morning and I 4 see helicopter carrying a tank and a jeep and the sky filled up, so they dropped every military camp, and everything else. When we realized the government was reinforcing themselves, and not to run the government. At the same time in the north, northeast area they have starvation. We had this drought and millions and millions of people were suffering and dying. So in this situation all the students, we intensified the fight, to complain, to participate in rallies, to participate in protesting. As usual, they chased us. We went home without anything. As soon as Russia became adviser, orders were given to crush the students; eliminate them. They called it, a “reign of terror.” Say that again. Reign of terror. “We have terrorized you.” They called the program what they did. We left school to go out and protest. The neighbors came out; even the farmers came out to join the protest. We all felt powerful. However, they would shoot in the sky and sometimes they would shoot their guns straight at us. Were you standing in the middle of all this? Yes. My first scene, are my friends who were twin brothers that I attended high school with. You had a twin brother? No, not me. The twin brothers, we're walking and were shot and killed. Oh, you had twin brothers. Bodies were everywhere. Say that again. They got killed immediately. They got killed? Yes, I know. So we started running after that; I mean human bodies flying everywhere. So we 5 realize this thing is serious; they're not joking. A month before they chase us; we went home; they scared us with pretend bullets in the sky to terrorize and to scare us, so the kids, we ran home. But this time become real. So your brothers were older than you? These twin brothers were just my classmates. Oh, they weren't your brothers? They're your classmates. They're my classmates, yes. Okay, I misunderstood. I'm the only one in school. My older brother and then I have another older sister at that time; they're not in the school. Then we realize; the more they do this, we intensify our protest, we start organizing more and more. So some of them were hiding. So what they did is...Russia came and advised that they wanted to divide us because it's a strong thing; you cannot fight it. So some of them got the money and power and gave them weapons, financial support to attack each other. So if you're in the military now, they divided the students, they divided other groups, they create their own power. The Russians were mostly in charge and the insurgents were merely puppets at the will of the Russians. They enforced the communist agenda. We got no help from the West at that time. We were just kids. The network between the students was now broken and at this point we went underground. When they realized that the network was broken they started killing individuals. They would capture a person, put them in a chair, kill them and leave the dead body in the streets as a warning for you to not get involved. This did not deter us. We continued to protest to avenge the deaths of the ones who had died for us. We had to get out and fight for them. We couldn't back off. So my first experience, one day protesting, over probably more than a million people; 6 every city came out. And then we're walking and they started shooting. So we rushed to hide. We're in the middle of this street; we block everywhere. So we don't have nowhere to hide, we jump to the wall. One side is a military camp. So it end up they caught us all. They put us in jail. And I remember a friend of mine just next to me, he get shot in his arm. And I tried to run. I couldn't leave him. So I have a friend, she gave me her shawl. The only thing...I sit down. I tell her, “You run.” So she runs to the hill and hide in the bush. So I took the shawl and I tied his arm from the bottom to the top to stop the bleeding. So I laid him against the wall and I tried to run. Then I get captured and put in jail. And how old are you at this time? Just sixteen. Sixteen. And were girls participating in this? Everybody. The farmer, the girls, everybody. They didn't care. So in that corner they capture us, a hundred of us, and they put us in this training military camp they have in the corner. They didn't care how many a room; they stuffed us in. So a ten by ten, approximately probably; I don't remember exactly, but ten-by-ten room they stuffed us all in. And locked the door, a steel door. I mean ten people stand for 20 minutes, ten people are sitting down. Until today my left knee is still injured from that. They took us out every night to beat and shock us with electric wires in an effort to force us to talk. Then the women and girls in the other room. They beat everybody. We were so determined not to say never turn on your brother. So that way they tried to break it in. When they couldn't get in, some of them after a week in jail—they know my brother, family help—they took me out. So most of us got released. Then the more they knew this, I couldn't resist not to fight because we started fighting again and again. We do it over and over, every city. So this again intensified and the military 7 decide to do now a different way to control. So they capture you and they kept you in there long term and also eliminate; people disappearing. (Musar Alkoli), my high school friend...I remember one of my friend because he spoke and me and him, we planned to speak, but he made the speech on the stage, organizing now what next to do. So they followed him and he's captured. And then we couldn't take him out from city because the city is surrounded with military; every exit somebody is there. So we have to just change his clothes, dress him up in different clothing, we stuff him in a bus kind of like if somebody came from village and they were going for supplies; that's the way we clothes him. We hide him in another city and then they hunt him because he is very intelligent, very smart kid. He knows how to organize, how to put together all things. So when he got killed my heart just tore apart, one of my best friends. Every week we're losing one or two persons. But in the end they decide to capture as many students as possible. (16:18), which is from ten, 12 years old to 20, 25 high school or college professor and a teacher. Everybody almost spoke or they couldn't cooperate with them or they couldn't act them, they couldn't dress like them. So they started capturing them. So the first time, just a day or two I came out. And the second time, seven days. And the third time I get captured, that's it. They just started killing. You know everybody was taking a turn. I didn’t know if I would make it or not. But luckily one officer helped me. We grew up in the same city. Another thing that they used to do like that to terrorize you, they used to bring the army or the police from another city, from different village and different ethnic group. So they bring them; they switch them around. So even the police and all those, they keep them in fear. They say, okay, these people are dangerous; they're going to kill you; shoot them or do this. So local people don't know those people. 8 Luckily in my case, the third time I got arrested was by one of my brother's good friend, he worked in the police department. He says, “It's your turn because I know all your friends are disappearing; it's your turn, and the only thing I can do is take you out and drop you in the middle of the desert or somewhere and you just disappear and run.” So now, the police are not part of the military. No. But there is still a police force. Police force. They did the same thing; they cooperated with the government. But they cooperated, okay. Yes. The police did all the dirty jobs for them. By bringing different things these people don't have no heart; they don't know about these people. By bringing in different people and switching them around this created confusion among the population. This was especially true when they brought in other ethnic groups creating a language barrier. They knew that the only way o control us was through fear. So you say that there are multiple ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Yes. And see, all of us are uprising; we all participate together. One thing I'm proud about Ethiopia...we never practice ethnic division, religious division, everything, because we're always for home issue; we stick together, until today. That's what I believe, always; no matter what religion, what culture we are, we always participate. No matter how full the country, this is one thing I am proud of are the people. So what happened next? So your friend tells you that you're next. Yes, to get out. So he dropped me in the middle of the desert. And I couldn't say bye to anybody; I couldn't say anything else; I have to walk. So early in my age I used to work with my father in 9 the shop and everything, so I learned— What kind of shop? It's clothing. So all my relatives are in custom clothes, making the clothing, tailoring. So that's why I become a tailor. As a child I learn with them. So when I left I found people I can speak their language, a few words. So one day I'm in the middle of the village and I started asking questions, who knows how to get out? And they just guided me. So we walk; first day we walk. The first three days we walked through, thick jungle, through the bush. So you're walking which direction from Harar? The village people, we ask them to cross the border. Some people went to Somalia; some people, they went to Kenya. So I chose the closest city, Djibouti. It's in Africa by the Red Sea. So this is a French Colony. It's over a hundred years colonized by the French. It was a small port town. So I'm into that. We walk day and night. The more I walk I find other students like me that escaped. So we're just building more and more, (Gross), young kid and everything; we find a few other people. So when you started it was you and... Within a day I found a couple of people. So we continued doing it. So we're walking. I mean luckily sometimes the village feed us. Sometimes we didn’t have food for a day. Then the third day we find flat, flat, flat desert that we're walking; it was hot! So just normal people in the village, they advise us either to walk five in the morning to ten o'clock, not to walk between ten to three, four o'clock, then walk afternoon because luckily (most time) they have a full moon and it is very bright. So that's what we did. They live in the village, so their advice is very important. Some places they gave us food; some they don't, so we didn’t have anything. We walk; we walk nonstop. 10 I think it was five or six days we started seeing airplane following in the sky; this Russian airplane started flying, looking for anybody because they found out thousands and thousands of people are leaving. When the (war) came the village people, they ended up leaving the farm, they ended up all the way to the border until they become like a refugee. Then they ended up crossing the border. One day I remember just almost over 24 hours we don't have nothing to drink, nothing, we're barely walking. So far away I see water, a pond water. So when I saw that I mean I'm just going to run and drink it. I want to drink it so badly. Just then the village man just grab my neck, he say, “You cannot drink it; you're going to die; if you drink that water you're going to die.” I said, “Wait, wait, wait.” I say, “I need water.” He say, “Okay.” He gave me a little wood to make a little hole. He say, “Dig a hole in the side; I'm going to teach you a lesson.” Like he's telling us, and actually because we don't speak the whole language, so he make me dig the side. I dig a nice hole. Because these people, they carry their own water; but it was for us to survive. So after I dig the hole—he gave me a little stick. He say, “Poke the stick to the water.” Then I went all the way to make a hole to get to the pond. Suddenly I see clear water filtering, coming through the sand to the next hole. This is like a life lesson they teach us in 30 seconds, just how those people lived for a thousand years. So now suddenly it looks like pure water, clean. So he say, “Don't drink again.” I say, “Why?” And I just want to. He say, “Let us cool ourselves, our body and our head, take a few minutes and then start drinking it.” I mean that water, I mean the best taste you have. Then they took us—they give us whatever they have, like rice and some beans they make. Also they have a (23:17). They give us camel milk; that's the only thing, they have a lot of camels. So they did that. We drink that. I mean it was hard to drink it on an empty stomach for days. And then we continued walking because if I stayed delayed they might follow us. These 11 people are going to kill us because they're looking from airplanes which way people disappeared. On third day, I mean after the second three days we're walking in the last two days we get close to the mountain to where you're close to the next border. The only thing I remember, I see the black rocks, like volcanic rocks. I mean you're walking—I don't know what kind of shoes you have—everything sharp cut you. (24:06) This is—I still have cuts from those, still I have. My shoes shredded, or whatever I had on, the sandals. So you still have all these scars around your feet and ankles. Yes, we're walking through there. If you look up on the mountains, there's Ethiopia and military radars on the top of the hill. This is a French Colony, Djibouti. We're in the middle, in a valley. But you're still in Ethiopia? Ethiopia line still. They can come and drop the bomb or kill us, so we have to walk, walk. Village people are also closing with them. We blend with the camel, behind the camel we help them. So they just feed us whatever they have. I mean when we got there it was too dark. So they couldn't let us in. Say that again. We could not cross because it was at night; they don't have nobody; the gate is closed. So we end up sleeping under (24:57). Almost we feel like every time we turn something hit you. I mean when sun came out in the morning, it's like we get excited, just too close to this border. I remember a truck came in; it was French military and local government all together. And almost a little bit like a box, they grab us from under the rocks, throw us in the truck to cross the border. So they took us out. I mean you don't know how I felt. And we look around; nothing coming after you and all this fear. So suddenly at least we're across the border. So they drove us a few miles. On the corner United Nations, because of the war and other famine, they create this 12 refugee camp. And this refugee camp is? Inside Djibouti, across from Ethiopia. Djibouti, the next country where we arrive. So they took us down there. They have a lot of tents all over. What you see a lot of on this day on television, how the refugee status is being created. So always I say some things you don't plan; you never grab your suitcase and say, “I want to be refugee.” So you don't have any suitcase when you become refugee; it's sudden. So everybody, I see them, they have a little bag, their children, their clothes, whatever belonged to them from village sitting in there. That's the safest place. So they put us here. They provide us rice, a bowl of rice and a drink and everything else. A tent they give you to stay on it. A few days pass and I look. I mean no light. Everything, all the light (26:36). Everything you have to use, wood to burn, those people experienced it, and as a city kid, you're already facing everything else, now you feel a little secure. But after seven days I couldn't stay there. And I ask a few friends, I say, “Let's go into the city.” Because the city is like a six or seven hour drive. So we don't have a car; we have to walk. I had a watch on my hand and I sold the watch and everything I have. We get together and ask the driver, I say, “Could you take us to city?” They say, “No, you guys are refugees; you're not allowed to go in the city.” And still we're going—I say, “Well, if we walk we don't know how far it is.” I mean just we tried to recover after seven days and nights walking. So in the end we convinced one driver. I say, “Okay, if they're going to see you on the border, we'll cross the mountain; we'll wait for you on the highway.” We give him all of our money, everything we've got, and just took a chance. And we walked. We walk here on the highway and wait on the other side. It was a strait, the mountain. Luckily he came and stopped. 13 So the bus is full. They have a couple of barrel in the middle of the aisle. “That is your chair,” he said. We didn’t care if we had to sit on the floor. So he drove us. It was late afternoon when we got there, almost dark, around six, seven o'clock. So when we got there we didn’t know where to go, we had no place to go, and everything was gone. (28:05) No money. So we heard underground people were there hiding and somebody provided for them. So all refugees, the ones ahead of us before we went. When we got there I say, “Where are we going to go?” So we took pieces of cardboard, found a little corner, and slept on the street. Woke up in the morning. I remember, Djibouti is so— How do you spell that? J-D—I think J-D-B-U-T, I think, Djibouti. T-I, yes with T-I. Okay, I'll need to know that. When we got there...after the Sahara Desert, I think it is the second hottest one, very hot; I mean nothing growing except they have the ocean because the Red Sea meet in the corner. So I know we're not allowed to go. So this is a shanty town, small, like cardboard homes and everything. We slept somewhere in the street. We wake up. The goat, they don't have anything to eat, they ate the cardboard. So they're all surrounding us and already been chewing and when we wake up everything was gone. So we started walking early in the morning. Luckily we found a couple of students and they see us. They are so excited. They just grab us. They say, “Oh, you've got to come, you've got to come, come see.” They took us to this house. It's a small place. Eighty to ninety people, probably around 80 people; I remember we counted 80 people. We stopped at this place. They have everything. They share whatever they have. Like it's the most—you feel comfortable. We have a room, bed. We have everything like back home. Now anyplace on the sidewalk you sleep 14 it becomes the best place to sleep because coming through those seven days we slept under the trees, we slept under the wash, anywhere we could hide and keep safe. So when we got here, the neighborhood people provided food; they gave us a lot of things because they knew people were suffering that were coming through there. But the same month also the Djibouti government got their freedom from colonized government, French government, the first time they become taking the power. So it's a new military, new everything. So we're afraid to come out. They told us don't go out; the new military, new government and French transferring all the parts to local government. And then we have fear because if you're a refugee or anything, you fully expect something might go wrong. It's up to you. So all the advice is not to get out. So we're limited. But one day—I've always through my life, I think, I don't know, I don't plan it, but through all my life and I mean back home when I was a student involved in organizing and everything, so I couldn't sit in one place. So I get up and I started looking down every street. Then I heard one place; it's a big, big—over there they were not wall built like this, but some of them just like a panel and walled and you can't see through it. And then sewing machine click, click, click, a lot of sewing machines. Then I knocked on the door and the guy asked me—I said, “I need help!” And I didn’t speak his language. I told him—my finger and my hand I'm showing him, “I can sew, I can sew, I can sew.” And the guy say, “Okay,” he took me in. He has something difficult to do. I see what they do. I say, I can do better. And I just showed him; I don't know how to talk to him. So he let me sit at the sewing machine. As my luck, I did perfect the way he wanted. He couldn't let me go. So he kept me over there, he feed me and give me a job. And when I finished work I'd run to the place; he'd give me a few dollars. I'd run back. I told all my friends, “Oh, I found a job, I found a job.” Then I drive a few of them, I say to go over 15 there just to try to help. In the meantime, we don't have no paper. We don't have nothing else. This government, they can deport us immediately if you don't cooperate to refugee camp. United Nations provided on the corner that border. Most country when a war break or things happen, they set up between the corner where the refugees started to stay. But for us we crossed in the city, so we could be evicted. They have a train between Ethiopia and Djibouti, for 40, 50 years, train back and forth. So what they do, they drop you in the train or in the cargo and you're just back home. They shoot you as soon as you arrive; they shoot you in the head. They don't care. That happens to most people. You jump on the train and you never come back again. If you save your life. A lot of times people, they miss their train, they lose their leg, they lose their hand. So what were you thinking? You thought you were going to get caught again? I had the fear. So I got a job now. And every morning I have to do the same; I have to go over there to work. We got paid very little money. Some girls found housework. It was not only boys, but we had young students and younger kids from I think ten, 12 years old all the way to old age. You have every adult. And everything we do it, we (33:30). So I have clean clothes, the best you can buy T-shirt because it was so hot over there. If you have a nice T-shirt, you're dressed up like a suit. So I started going back and forth, back and forth every day. So when I realize now...I'm used to the street; I'm used to everything else. Everybody else I brought with me to work. The more we looked around we found other students and people sheltering the people in their houses.