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Identity & Community

Young Pittsburgh Refugees Share Their Stories: Hussein, Neema, Mbavumoja & Maryam

Young refugees have to adapt quickly once they arrive in Pittsburgh. Although they often come from difficult circumstances, many are able to learn English and make friends quickly. As part of a five-part series from WESA, four young people from Iraq, Tanzania and Congo share their stories of transition.

Hussein Zangana, 15, now lives in Brookline. He said it’s very different from Iraq, where fighting forced his family to flee. “Something is wrong,” he said.

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Credit Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA News
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90.5 WESA News
Neema Asee, 10, recently resettled in Pittsburgh from Congo.

His older sister, Maryam Zangana, 16, said the unhappiness is pervasive in Iraq, and many people there suffer from lack of money and food. But in Pittsburgh, she enjoys going to school at Brashear High School, especially to her favorite class, algebra. Of her math teacher, Zangana said “she is so good with me.”

Zangana has also made new friends who are Portuguese, Nepali and African; they visit each other’s homes and sometimes go to Kennywood.

Neema Asee, 10, lives in Banksville and comes from Tanzania. “I like to go school, because it’s nice,” she said.

Mbavumoja Hussein, 12, goes to South Hills Middle School. She and her family resettled from Congo. “I like here America, I like a little bit,” she said. “But my country, I love my country. I like my country better.”