1. Through the reporting, you meet a lot of very sad victims, but there was something about Ismael that really stuck with me. And I was really depressed coming back home thinking, ‘I’ll never see this kid again. What a remarkable kid.’ And luckily, what ended up happening was the story ended up getting a lot of attention. It moved others in Canada. We have a large Somali-Canadian diaspora — they decided to try and help Ismael.

    They started Project Ismail and one Canadian in particular, Sahal Abdulle — who lived in Nairobi and he’s a former Reuters photojournalist — he told me, ‘Listen I can’t save Somalia, but I think I can save Ismail.’ So he set out to save him and 10 months after I wrote that story, he called me and said, ‘We’re gonna get him to Nairobi. Come back.’ So I was in Nairobi where they had managed this great escape for him and Ismail came across the border and I did a story about that.

    He applied for refugee status and refugee protection and I thought it would take long time, but just a month later, got a call from Sahal [who] said, ‘You’re never gonna guess what, but he’s got a country that’ll take him on an emergency basis.’ And I said, ‘Canada!’ — I was hoping it would be Canada. ‘No,’ said Sahal. ‘It’s Norway.’ And I thought, ‘OK, Norway, that’s fine.’ And then he said, ‘No, it’s Harstad, Norway.’ So we were both Googling where Harstad, Norway, was and that’s how I found myself a year after I met Ismail on a plane with Ismail and Sahal flying 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle to this beautiful little town of 23,000 called Harstad. And that is where Ismail lives now.

    — Michelle Shephard on how her article helped lead to Ismail Khalif Abdulle’s rescue

  2. Al Shabab

    Michelle Shephard

    Somalia