Home' The Wellingtonian : November 24th 2011 Contents 3
THE WELLINGTONIAN, NOVEMBER 24, 2011
From war-torn Somalia
to a double degree
High achiever: Ahmed Sofe has grabbed every opportunity life
has given him.
Photo: EMMA BEER
By EMMA BEER
Ahmed Sofe is proof anything is
Mr Sofe was born in Somalia in
1985. His father was killed in the civil
war when he was four.
Following that, his mother moved
Ahmed and his four younger brothers,
one still in her womb, to Ethiopia.
We moved to Ethiopia because
there was no peace, there was a war
going on in Somalia, so it was not safe
for us to stay there, he said.
Life s quite difficult [in Somalia and
Ethiopia]. People have difficulty to
meet basic necessities, let alone the
stuff like work or education -- those are
out of the equation.
People are struggling to get food,
water and clean facilities.
In 1999, the Sofes immigrated to
New Zealand, hoping for a better life,
and for medical help for Mrs Sofe.
She has seven gun wounds on her
leg. People in the UNHCR [United
Nations Refugee Agency] helped to
find a place where she could get treat-
ment and we can get a future.
New Zealand was the first country
The thing that went through in my
head was, Oh fantastic, I ll find some
sort of education there. It was sort of
a fantasy world. It s going to be fantas-
tic, life will be good, there will be lots
of entertainment and I can basically
pursue any dreams I have. I won t
worry for food and health and edu-
cation or for safety.
Mr Sofe said New Zealand had lived
up to his expectations.
I m very grateful to the country:
they offered us a great opportunity
that we wouldn t have got in Ethiopia.
And every day when I wake up,
that s what drives me.
Looking back where I m from, there
are people like me who did not have
the opportunity to come to a country
like here, so I should be working hard,
taking the opportunities that come.
After moving to Wellington, Mr Sofe
was enrolled at Wellington High
School. It was a difficult first year, he
said, because he spoke little English.
I was like a deaf person sitting in
class. I was just doing the formalities
of being there.
By the next year, his year 11, things
After high school, he went on to uni-
versity at Massey, despite suggestions
it would be too hard.
I had people saying, University s
going to be difficult for you, so it s not
ideal that you should go .
But because I had that strong drive
I said, Hey, you have an opportunity
that not everyone gets .
As in high school, his first year was
In terms of my academic back-
ground, I wasn t quite comfortable, but
I had that drive.
Once I came back for second year,
life changed again. My first semester I
got four As, so that was fantastic.
From there it sort of snowballed, it
rolled and I haven t seen anything
that s stopped me yet.
Mr Sofe completed his bachelor of
accountancy in 2007 with an A aver-
age, and his bachelor of business
studies, with honours in accounting, in
2009. He is now a chartered account-
ant for Ernst & Young.
He said his mother was excited by
The thing that excites her mainly is
if I hadn t set up this example it
would ve affected [my brothers].
One brother has become an account-
ant in commercial law, another is a
carpenter, one is at university and the
youngest is finishing high school.
Mr Sofe is heavily involved in the
Somalian community in Wellington,
and has helped organise Celebrate
Somalia and Save Lives, on Saturday.
The event, which includes food, cul-
ture, live music, dance, art and key-
note speakers, is an effort to reach out
to less fortunate Somalis.
Celebrate Somalia and Save Lives, St
Andrew's on the Terrace, November 26,
10am till 4pm.
Still a fan of MMP
Deja vu: (Above) In
1993 Jo Mackay of
Hataitai designed her
own pro-MMP billboard,
attached it to the back
of her Hillman car and
towed it through
(Below) Eighteen years
later, the former
has returned to the
streets with a new MMP
billboard, and a newer
car, but the same
''I think it's the best
system for New
Zealand,'' she said.
''It's been working well
over the past five
terms. We've had
and every vote counts.
A referendum on New
Zealand's voting is
taking place at the
same time as the
election on Saturday.
Voters will be given
asked two questions.
Should MMP be kept?
Which of four other
voting systems you
would choose if New
Zealand decides to
change from MMP --
Transferable Vote, First
Past the Post,
Preferential Voting and
For information, see
Photo: JOHN NICHOLSON
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