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BACKSTORY: Hasno Ali

BACKSTORY: Hasno Ali

From looking at the travel brochures, one would never guess that San Diego has the second largest population of Somalians in the country.  City Heights is heavily populated with East Africans from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and Sudan as well as Somalia. My interest in our not-in-the-brochure populations takes me to the International Rescue Committee every now and again in search of people to meet and stories to share. The organization helps refugees resettle in the United States, and their San Diego branch is the largest in their domestic-resettlement network.

When Joel Chrisco, a microenterprise specialist at the IRC, told me he was working with a woman in the process of getting a food truck with East African cuisine out on the streets, I pestered him about putting me in touch with her for months. Chrisco told Hasno Ali about me, but she wasn’t ready to talk until the truck was up and running.  Ali interested me not just because of her story but also because of her food.  Ethiopian food is at the very top of my list of favorites, and while Ali’s food is not strictly Ethiopian, it’s damn good.  And she has stories to tell, too.

Below are pictures of Ali and her sambusas, as well as photos of three other African immigrants/entrepreneurs I met through the IRC and wrote about in October 2011.

Hasno Ali serves food on a quiet Wednesday afternoon.

Hasno Ali serves food on a quiet Wednesday afternoon.

Hasno Ali's sambusas are her most popular item.

Hasno Ali’s sambusas are her most popular item.

Hasno Ali's other dishes.  Rice, lentils, cabbage, tomato.  (Yes, she just calls the red one "tomato."  It's amazing.)

Hasno Ali’s other dishes. Rice, lentils, cabbage, tomato. (Yes, she just calls the red one “tomato.” It’s amazing.)

Said Dubed owns the Far Janna market University Avenue in San Diego.  He's from Somalia.

Said Dubed owns the Far Janna market University Avenue in San Diego. He’s from Somalia.

Ugandan native Luchia Lokonyen works a plot in a community garden in San Diego and sells her produce at the City Heights farmers' market.

Ugandan native Luchia Lokonyen works a plot in a community garden in San Diego and sells her produce at the City Heights farmers’ market.

A native of East Sudan, Osman Osman owns a cleaning company, American Cleaning Experts.  For some reason, no matter how many times I reminded him of my name, he always called me Diana.

A native of East Sudan, Osman Osman owns a cleaning company, American Cleaning Experts. For some reason, no matter how many times I reminded him of my name, he always called me Diana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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