By Miriam Raftery
April 9, 2011 (San Diego)—Inside the Safari Market bazaar, a Somali woman sells bright-colored beaded head scarves, jewelry and rugs. Two dozen vendors offer other wares and services. Nearby, African Spice restaurant serves up savory sambussas (pastry shells filled with meats, vegetables and African spices), succulent fish, lamb, goat, and an aromatic tea seasoned with cloves. Safari Market also sells groceries, such as large bags of cinnamon and rice, some labeled in Arabic.
No, this isn’t a street scene out of Africa. It’s a new business incubator in the East San Diego neighborhood known as “Little Mogadishu” – a hub where refugees from war-torn East African nations such as Somalia, the Sudan, Eritria and Ethiopia are starting new lives in America, aided by the nonprofit organizations Horn of Africa Community and Somali Family Services. The Safari center has created 125 jobs for East African refugees, mostly women. Now it's become a model that is being replicated in other U.S. cities.