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With Travel Ban On Hold, Somali Refugees Take Off For The U.S.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last week, we introduced you to some Somali refugees stranded by President Trump's executive actions. Now those refugees are leaving from Kenya on their way to the U.S. Here's NPR's Eyder Peralta.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: International Organization for Migration runs a transit center in the middle of Nairobi. But with mango trees towering over the building, it feels far from the bustle. For the thousands of refugees who are resettling in the United States, this is the last patch of Africa they see before they take off to their new home.

HARETHA ALI: (Speaking Somali).

PERALTA: That's Haretha Ali, a Somali refugee headed to Des Moines, Iowa.

She says that all of this feels like a dream. Her trip was already delayed once. And now, she says, she's just looking at the clock, hoping that the door won't close again. She looks nervous, but her 19-year-old son, Abdirahman, who's spent his whole life as a refugee, is all smiles.

ABDIRAHMAN: (Speaking Somali).

PERALTA: He says he's looking forward to leaving the Dadaab camp behind and embracing American culture - the language, the food. His mom fled civil war in 1992 and ended up in Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp.

ALI: (Speaking Somali).

PERALTA: She hopes Americans welcome her. And she wants to finally live in a place where she can be independent and forge her own destiny.

It's not long before the staff at the transit center start loading luggage onto the bus. And just like that, the worry that I saw on so many faces melts away. Suddenly, there's movement, smiles, hugs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ENGINE STARTING)

PERALTA: One by one, they're called onto the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

PERALTA: Abdirahman stands up, big smile on his face. He's put on a letterman jacket. He had told me that he knew it was cold in Des Moines. In an hour, he'd be at the airport. By morning, he'd be in London. And by evening, he'd be starting a new life.

Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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