I want to share my story to help people understand that you can work hard, but the system just isn’t set up right to help us.
In 1994, I moved from West Africa to Omaha where I opened my business, Okra African Grill. Like many people, I have had my fair share of struggles. I studied for my nursing degree, I got married, I had kids, and I got divorced. Schooling has always been a really important thing to me. But at the same time, it was hard to be able to afford to raise the kids and everything in between. So I had to work full time, take care of two kids alone, take care of the household and even work a bartending job at night.
It was difficult to raise and feed the kids, find affordable day care, and work at the same time. I applied for food stamps and I was told that I made $25 too much to qualify. I couldn’t believe it; it was the most dumbfounding thing ever. I worked hard for my kids, but the system isn’t set up to help the hardworking single mothers, fathers and families out here. The government does not really want to support us.
I love the underdog story because I’m at the pinnacle of it; I call it the silent fight. I believe that there’s nothing on this planet that you can’t push. Eventually, the system will budge. We need to motivate everybody to push. It doesn’t take just one or two people; it takes the collective, but it just takes one person to get up and say, “Enough of this! I’m gonna start moving and you’re gonna see. Everybody’s gonna stand up and start moving behind me.”
Nina Sodji, Omaha