Ambiyo Munie gives speech from podium during Moraine Park GED-HSED graduation ceremony

We recently hosted our GED / HSED graduation ceremony on June 16 at Moraine Park Technical College. On this special night, 21 men and women were honored (check out pictures of the event here!).

The often-times difficult, winding journeys many of these individuals endured to get to this point was truly inspiring and we’re proud of all of them!

One individual in particular, however, quite literally had the furthest journey of all. 

Meet, Ambiyo Munie

Ambiyo was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, nearly 13,000 miles from where she stood on stage at the GED completion ceremony. Her life has been one of equal parts struggle and determination.

“I am the oldest child in my family. It was my responsibility to take care of my three brothers and six sisters and my mom. Life in my village was difficult.   After my father died, I had to start working in construction.  I was about 10 years old. I carried bricks on my head from one place to another. I had to take care of the family.  Having no father, there was no one to buy me books and I could not go to school.  It was hot and heavy work. Many other women and children did this work. These were difficult times.”

And that was just the difficult work. Day-to-day living had it’s difficulties, too.

“Just walking to visit my grandfather could be dangerous! Hippos, elephants and monkeys are all very dangerous. Monkeys kill chickens that provide eggs every day, and meat for very special occasions. Elephants would come through villages and destroy the houses.  People would bang loudly on pans and light fires to keep the elephants away. Hippos could chase you and hurt you.”

When she was about 14, she was very lucky to become a housekeeper.  She cleaned and cooked and took care of babies in the big city of Mogadishu.

“It was hard work from sun up to sundown, and sometimes later. Even though it was hard work, it was better than carrying bricks out in the hot sun and I was able to buy m brothers and sisters books so they could go to school. My family counted on me.  I was only there one or two years, when my boss’s cousin, who worked at the Somalian Embassy in Washington D.C., was looking for hard workers who would be willing to go to the embassy to be a housekeeper.

My boss asked me if I knew anyone who would go. said I would be willing to go! He laughed and said that if I went to the embassy, he wouldn’t have anyone to be housekeeper at his house. I suggested my sister could work for him and I could to the United States.  And that is what happened!  It was very difficult to leave my whole family in Somalia, but I had been asking God to make my life easier.

He answered my prayer.”

Coming to America

I was about 15 when I came to the United States. felt good, and rich! Working in the embassy was just like working in Africa. I worked all day with no breaks.  I would be awakened a lot at night for guests who arrived. I didn’t get much sleep. All of the money I earned went straight to my mother in Somalia. I never got ANY of the money!

Then a horrible thing happened. They stopped paying my mother for a few months, and I was still working for them! I was working, but not getting paid! My mother couldn’t support the family anymore.The boss at the embassy told me I had to return to Somalia.

TWICE he tried to send me back, but the tickets at the airport were not in my name and they would not allow me to return to Somalia. The people at the embassy were very angry with me and I had to run away.

That is when God answered my prayer again! I ended up working at the house of an American family as a nanny in Maryland.

God bless Ronald Reagan!

This was very nice work!   They were very nice and kind to me.

I got paid every week! In dollars!

They bought me everything I needed, from toothpaste to clothes.    I was able to send my mother $300 a month. In Somalia, she was a rich lady! I could not speak any English. My new boss labeled everything in the house with American words and they helped me learn English.

Most importantly, they wanted me to become an American citizen. They drove me many hours to Baltimore to take citizenship classes and do paperwork. Because Ronald Reagan passed a law that allowed me to stay here and get my green card and passport, I eventually became a citizen of the United States. God bless Ronald Reagan! HE IS MY HERO!

Then I met my husband, who’s also from Somalia, and we had 5 children!

Onward, to Wisconsin

Eventually, we moved to Wisconsin and I wanted to go to ELL classes at Moraine Park Technical College. The classes here at Moraine Park were free and I learned a LOT!

Then one day, I found out about a new class. My ELL teacher, Amy, gave me a flyer that was about the 5.09 HSED class.  I could learn at my own pace and earn a high school diploma!

It took me six years”

Your turn

Yes, it took more than half a decade, but Ambiyo did it. She graduated.
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And she wants others to know they can, too, regardless of where they come from, their circumstances, struggles and obstacles.

“… Anything is possible if you work hard and are patient. If you don’t have these things, you CANNOT succeed.

From my beginning in Somalia to my life here in Fond du Lac, I have had many dreams. I have always worked to make them come true. It was time for me to show my children that education was important, so I started school.

We look for a better life. I want my children to have a better life.

Education is opportunity! THAT is the key! If you have the key, you can open the door ! There is ALWAYS something new to learn.

Now I’m a grandmother, and I pray that my grandson has a better life and future opportunities because I valued education and hard work.”

If you’d like to follow in Ambiyo’s footsteps, we’d love to help you complete your own journey. For more information about our GED program, click here.

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Andrew Pantzlaff
Written by Andrew Pantzlaff

Public Relations Specialist.
Lover of pizza.