Minnesota honors 10 refugees for their civic contributions

Oballa Oballa inspired new state legislation. Amran Abukar writes powerful books for kids and adults. Farhiya Iman talks to her community.

The three are among 10 refugees recognized Friday by the Minnesota Department of Human Services for their contributions. The Outstanding Refugee Award program is in its fourth year.

Last year, Minnesota welcomed 891 refugees from 13 countries.

“People who come to the United States as refugees endure great hardship in order to realize their hopes for a better life for themselves and their families,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “I’m so pleased to acknowledge the achievements of these individuals who have done so much to unify Minnesota and make our state a better place to live.”Recognized from the east metro were:

Dr. Obsa Abdulla Hassan

Hassan, of Spring Lake Park, works at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and provides free medical services within his community through multiple programs. He is also the founder of the Axis Family Clinic in Northeast Minneapolis. He came to the U.S. as an Oromo refugee.

Novia Josiah-Isaac

Josiah-Isaac, of Maplewood, works for the Center for Victims of Torture in St. Paul. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a master’s of social work degree in 2018 and became a licensed social worker. She was the first Karen immigrant from Myanmar (Burma) to do each of those things in Minnesota.

True Thao

Thao, of Cottage Grove, is the founder of True Thao Counseling, which provides tailored bilingual and bicultural mental health services. Thao and his brother also restored the historic Cedarhurst Mansion in Cottage Grove. Thao came to the U.S. as a Hmong refugee.

Ku Mo

Mo, of St. Paul, is a freshman at the University of Minnesota. While she attended Como Park Senior High, Mo fixed computers to give to families in need, volunteered on community service projects and tutored younger students. Mo came to the U.S. as a Karenni refugee.

Other’s recognized include:

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