Daud Mohamed Osman speaks to a client Friday at the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine in his role as a housing navigator. Osman immigrated to the United States from Somalia and takes satisfaction in helping other people — no matter their background — find stable housing. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

It was on one of the days after the Dec. 18 flooding, at a temporary shelter set up for the displaced at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston, when Daud Mohamed Osman saw a woman standing off to the side with her child.

Osman, a housing navigator at the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine in Lewiston, was at the shelter to help people locate more permanent shelter. He was staying late as the shelter closed that day to make sure everyone had a safe place to go. That91 when he saw the woman standing off to the side with her daughter, not boarding the shuttles taking people back to their neighborhoods.

He approached them and said “I want to help you.” He sat with her, listened to her story, and found out her name was Norma Violet and that she and her 11-year-old daughter had been struggling with homelessness for the past several years and had sought refuge at the temporary shelter for safety, shelter and warmth.

He arranged for a hotel room for that night through IRCM. He also secured funding from a friend for an additional night. He then helped Violet set up an appointment at City Hall with General Assistance.

“I just was open to resources around me and not closed-minded and willing to ask for help,” Violet said.

Osman maintains regular contact with Violet and her daughter via cellphone, ensuring they have his number and can reach out for assistance.


In the weeks that followed, Osman helped Violet apply for General Assistance and find permanent housing. Violet, a white woman with learning disabilities, PTSD, and lifelong housing and transportation challenges, had been camping in a tent with her daughter last year. Despite her struggles, she works hard to bring stability to her daughter91 life.

“It doesn’t matter who you belong to. Norma persevered. I persevered,” said Osman.

The fact that Osman, a Somali immigrant, was able to assist Violet, who has faced significant challenges, highlights the inclusive nature of his work at the center.

Born in 1986 in Somalia, Osman grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya after his family fled the civil war when he was 3 years old.

“Life was so hard. Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you go to school without food. The school was right in the refugee camp, three blocks away from where we lived,” Osman recalled.

While in school, Osman worked as an interpreter, translating Somali to English.


In 2012, Osman had the opportunity to come to the United States, initially staying in Arizona for three months before joining his sister and her family in Maine.

“I didn’t check the weather. When I came outside, I met my niece and nephew. I didn’t have a jacket. No one told me it snowed here. I didn’t even look at the weather,” Osman said.

“I thought everything was like in Africa,” Osman said. “My niece and nephew said ice cream was coming from the sky,” Osman laughed.

He began working as an interpreter in Lewiston, primarily in hospitals and case management, using his skills in Somali-to-English translation .

Osman later secured a position at the Immigrant Resource Center as a housing navigator, where he helps people navigate resources and ensures they receive the assistance they need.

“When I came to America, and even before I came to America, I was helped by people who showed love to everybody. My parents always advised me to help everybody, regardless of where they come from, what religion they have, or what color they are,” Osman said.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: