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Former Somalia refugee makes it his mission to help others

Maulid Warfa vividly remembers the pain of his own childhood and does all he can to help the impoverished, starving children of today.

September 26, 2011|By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times

Sometimes he reaches agreement with one leader, only to see a more senior figure appear and reject the deal, forcing him to start over. He leaves nothing to chance. Some convoys take days to negotiate.

"You get tired. You lose your voice. You lose your temper. Sometimes you get emotional. Sometimes it's, 'Sorry, no, today you can't do that.'

"Each time, you have to keep negotiating. We tell them if you don't allow us access, people will die. We tell them, 'Imagine if this was your mother, imagine if this was your child.' We tell them we are doing this for humanity."

When he plays with refugee children, or helps a starving child, his fatigue and hopelessness lift, at least for a while.

"At the end of the day, you know that by doing all this hard work and negotiating, you reach a few children. That makes your day and gives you the energy to go on."

When he found Asha, he weighed her and saw she had severe malnutrition, so he took her in his car to a feeding center and waited to see her eat. To his joy, she took the lifesaving nut paste well. He made sure she had a month's supply — enough, he knew, to be certain she would make it.

Then he had to go on to the next child.

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