Minneapolis, MN—In 1992, Abdi Roble found a manual camera at a flea market. Captivated, he began taking photography courses at a community college and documenting the Somali immigrant and refugee experience. Ten years later, he founded the Somali Documentary Project with more than 10,000 images of Somali people in the Twin Cities, Rochester, Saint Cloud, Willmar and Pelican Rapids. Through his Bush Fellowship, he will acquire the skills to create a professional archive that digitizes and catalogues these images — the first of its kind in the world. Guided by the motto “Ummad aan dhigaal lahayni, waa dhaayo aan arag lahayn," - "A nation without archives is like eyes without sight,” he also seeks leadership training to support and inspire young people to document and archive their communities.
In June 2016, I was invited to speak at the University of Minnesota in an event sponsored by Immigration History Center (IHRC) about the work I have been doing with Somali refugees and migrants around the world over the past decade.