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Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Published March 1, 2024

East African businesses hope to rebuild after fire

Several East African-owned businesses were greatly impacted by a fire on Jan. 24 and are hoping to start up their businesses again for the community.
Image by Eleanor King
Several East African-owned businesses are hoping to rebuild after a fire destroyed the buildings they were located in.

Samira Abubakar and Misra Yusuf opened East African Womb Wellness and Spa in July 2023 to provide women with herbal medicine and traditional healing used in East Africa during and after pregnancy. Their business supported women in the East African community.

The spa provided services to help women with depression, stress and any illnesses connected to the womb, Yusuf said. They provide services known as Yoni steam, hijama/cupping, facials and body scrubs, which have been traditionally used in East Africa for over 100 years, Abubakar said.

Abubakar and Yusuf’s business was one of seven East African businesses destroyed in a fire on Jan. 24.

Abubakar said she started this business with Yusuf because of her experiences with pregnancy and wanted to help others undergoing pregnancy. Her pregnancy questions were not answered by her gynecologist, so she turned to herbal medicine and traditional healing.

“We don’t have that in this country, so when I started, there were a lot of women who were happy from East Africa,” Abubakar said. “It’s our tradition to get this service in order for us to heal our womb.”

The fire affected two properties: one housed the seven businesses and the other, owned by the West Bank Community Development Corporation, housed the first licensed Somali home daycare in Minnesota. 

Abdi Aden, who runs the company that owns the building, said the building was burned and is waiting on his insurance to determine whether or not he can repair it.

None of the businesses had insurance, according to the West Bank Business Association (WBBA). Now, they have to relocate and replace their income, equipment, inventory and furniture. 

Yusuf said the fire destroyed their business and now they have to start from scratch six months after they began.

“We put in our time and whatever we have, we worked really hard to establish this business and we have to start from the ground again and find any sort of source that can help us,” Yusuf said.

Aden said businesses both new and old were destroyed in the fire. He is helping these business owners with relocation but is struggling himself in the aftermath of the fire. 

“My building is burned out, I think it’s a total loss,” Aden said. “I have to rebuild and look for a loan or something like that.”

The owners of the home daycare had to move out of their home and lost many personal and business items in the fire, according to WBBA. 

Yusuf said the impact on the community is not only financial but also emotional.

“It does have a huge impact, not only on us, the owners of the place, but the people that we’d be working with, our clientele, people that have had experience with us, hoping to get the service done with us and in general just women in our community that are not able to find that sort of healing process through other health systems,” Yusuf said. 

Abubakar said their goal is to find grant money, get insured and move into a new location. 

Yusuf added they want to make their services available to all women who need and can benefit from it regardless of their culture.

WBBA started a GoFundMe to raise funds to help the businesses impacted by the fire. 

“It’s not just our business, but the business owners and the community that are giving service to these different business owners that are there,” Yusuf said.

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