When you meet Nimo Ahmed, you’re struck immediately by her kind smile and her warm, engaging presence. When you hear her story and learn what she is doing to make a difference in this world, you realize this petite mother of five is no push over. She’s very much a force to be reckoned with.
Nimo is one of the founders and Executive Director of MN Community of African People with Disabilities (MNCAPD), a non-profit organization founded in 2014 to serve the disabled Somali community in Minneapolis. Since its founding, MNCAPD has expanded its mission to include the disabled and marginalized in her birth country of Somalia. The task is immense and the challenges profound, yet Nimo is undeterred. That’s why MATTER is proud to partner with Nimo and share her story on this International Women’s Day.
Nimo’s family moved from Somalia to America when Nimo was still a young child. Her compassion for the disabled was kindled when she broke her back in a car accident as a teenager. Her carefree, active lifestyle was brought to a sudden halt as her world became confined to a wheelchair with months of surgery, treatment, and rehab at Mayo Clinic. Though she eventually recovered from her injuries, the experience changed Nimo in profound ways. It opened her eyes to the world of disability. She understood first-hand the services and resources necessary for a person to live with a disability or to recover from one. Most importantly, she realized her Somali community had little knowledge of the resources available for disabled people or the understanding of how to access them.
Thus, MNCAPD was born. Located in the heart of the Somali community in Minneapolis, MNCAPD provides a variety of services to help the disabled live full and active lives in mainstream society. Services include everything from physical therapy to job skills training.
The success of MNCAPD in Minnesota prompted Nimo to expand its mission to help the disabled in her home country of Somalia where they are often shunned and marginalized from the rest of society.
“When I got in a car accident and broke my back, I realized how difficult it is to go from being an independent to a dependent person. For the disabled in Somalia, it is a very different situation. I had tons of treatment and physical therapy to recover. But in Somalia, they don’t have those resources and treat them like it is an illness. That motivated me to help make a change.”