Somali Mother looks for lost money

Published: April 23, 2010

A Somali refugee living in Charlottetown is hoping the public will help her after she lost all the money she had to live on for the next month.
Ubah Ali and her seven children arrived on the Island last summer, sponsored by the First Baptist Church.
Every month, Ali receives a cheque for $2,200 from the federal government — enough to pay the bills and feed her family while she learns English and searches for a job.
On Wednesday, she cashed the cheque and left the bank with all the money in an envelope.
Ali said she was holding onto two of her children and had no pockets, so she put elastic around the envelope and tucked it into her headscarf. She then walked up University Avenue toward Sobeys.
When she got to the grocery store, Ali said she realized the envelope was missing. Charlottetown police helped her retrace her steps, but they found nothing.
When she contacted the government, she was told there was nothing they could do to help.
“They say we can’t get you a cheque. We can’t help you because you cashed the money,” Ali said Thursday.
Ali is hoping that if someone did find her money, they’ll return it to the police or the church.
“I think they will feel some guilt, and bring back. Because I am a single mother who is a refugee. I have no work and a lot of children. I have no other way to get money,” she said.
“Maybe somebody, a Good Samaritan, will find it and turn it in. That’s what I’m hoping.”
The church provided Ali with boxes of food Thursday.
“She would normally never go to the food bank here,” said Rev. Kathy Neely, of First Baptist Church. “She is independent and looks after herself in that way, but this month is different.”
Ali said she realizes now she shouldn’t have taken out that much money, and the church is making arrangements with her bank so her bill payments can start coming directly our of her account.
“We don’t understand when we come from Africa, we don’t understand the banks, how to make a cheque or how to use a card,” Ali said.
Neely said church members have been trying to teach Ali how to live in her new community.
“Day by day, we teach her different things. It sounds like we should’ve done this earlier, but every day there’s something, so you spend a lot of time teaching them,” she said.
The church will pay Ali’s bills this month and is accepting donations of food or money from anyone who wants to help.

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