Author lived to tell a painful tale
Habibo Haji has had a remarkable journey, and the former refugee and current nurse found a way to share her story.
Haji will sign copies of her memoir "Conquering the Odds: Journey of a Shepherd Girl" at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Apache Mall Barnes and Noble. Her co-writer, Joseph Culhane, has also written numerous books on the Amish.
Haji credits Culhane for convincing her to write.
"He just kept telling me I had a wonderful story, and I would always say, 'Joe, nobody wants to hear about me,'" she said. "I would never have been able to publish this book without him."
Haji's memoir recaps her life from a small village in Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya to her arrival in the United States. When Haji arrived in the U.S. in September 1998, she did not speak English. Haji learned the language, eventually becoming a registered nurse at Mayo Clinic.
"The book is my journey of life," Haji said. "A lot of different things have happened to me through the years that have made me who I am today. The book is about overcoming struggles."
It took Haji more than two years to write the novel. She wrote about all of the painful times she experienced while moving from place to place as well as the heartache of watching her home country erupt into a civil war. Haji said writing the book and reading it now is bittersweet.
"I know now that I'm a lot stronger and more in tune with who I am as a person now than who I was when I wrote the book," she said. "It gave me the strength to say the past is the the past, and it doesn't define me. I have filled my future with positivity. It gave me a new understanding of the human resilience that I had gone through. Some part of it will remain with me, but it's not who I am."
Haji's book is available from online booksellers.
What: Conquering the Odds with author Habibo Haji
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Barnes and Noble at Apache Mall, 1201 12th St. S.W.