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“The Forgotten Ones” highlights opioid crisis in Minneapolis’ East African community


By Reg Chapman

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    Minneapolis, Minnesota (WCCO) — It’s a struggle many in the East African community suffer through silently.

Opioid addiction is impacting young and old, and now a documentary – “The Forgotten Ones” – is being released in order to break down stigmas and encourage support.

Abdirahman Warsame is the film’s producer.

“Through the storytelling you know, people will start to empathize. And through that empathy we hope to create connection because the opposite of addiction and sobriety is connection,” Warsame said.

He says this story needed to be told.

“So many people are struggling all around, and I feel like there’s such a disparity in resources,” Warsame said. “Being a Somali immigrant, there’s no data collection, there’s no stats when it comes to our community. People are struggling and dying everyday and nobody knows about it.”

The documentary highlights the suffering.

“Parents would wake up in the morning to wake their children up and they would see them dead,” he said. “I remember there was a month where seven people died within our community. Nobody talked about it.”

This 25-year-old knows firsthand how bad the opioid epidemic is.

“I was addicted to fentanyl,” he said. “I didn’t think that I was gonna reach 22.”

Warsame’s struggles are typical in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where he grew up.

“I grew up in that neighborhood and I struggled in that neighborhood, and there wasn’t really much people to help me,” he said. “But it’s not because people didn’t want to help me. They didn’t know how.”

That’s why he founded Generation Hope, a licensed peer recovery support organization that provides help to overcome addiction.

“A lot of times people just try to keep that stuff inside in fear of judgment, in fear of being pushed away. And it’s really why we do the work that we do and try to shed light on the issue, and try to show people that, you know, you’re not alone.”

“The Forgotten Ones” shows addiction up close in hopes of getting rid of stigmas that stop people from reaching out for help, and gather resources to make it all possible.

“We’re all struggling with this, and this is not a Somali issue. This is not a minority issue. This is a human issue,” Warsame said. “Addiction’s affecting lives everywhere.”

There’s a special showing of “The Forgotten Ones” Friday at 7 p.m. at Macalester College in St. Paul.

Warsame will also unveil plans for a new drop-in center at Cedar-Riverside, the epicenter of the opioid epidemic in the East African Community.

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