Hours after her home burned down, Hawo Gurey stood on the sidewalk looking at the remains trying to figure out how to rebuild.
Not for herself, though. She was more concerned about the families that had come to rely on the day care business that was also housed inside the property.
“This is very devastating. It’s going to impact my business in a large way. I am no longer going to be able to care for the kids I was going to care for. It’s going to affect the mothers and children that were gonna be taken care of,” Gurey said.
If you learn more about her life story, you’ll find that taking care of others is what Gurey does.
In 1991, Gurey became a refugee of civil war in Somalia, taking a bullet to the shoulder.
“I flee with my siblings and I was able to take care of them. My mother passed away in her own home. She was shot. We came to Kenya and fortunately, I was able to come to America,” she said.
After several years in a Kenyan refugee camp, Gurey and her young children arrived in Minnesota.
She says she received so much help taking care of her children here, she wanted to pay it forward.
“I started off helping moms who didn’t speak English, who didn’t have people to take care of their kids so they can go to work,” she said. “There’s many parents that were not able to get help or assistance from the government but I was able to help and help them until they are able to get assistance or get help or homes or work.”
Gurey eventually opened the first licensed Somali day care in the state.
Since then, she’s watched over thousands of children until Wednesday morning’s fire.
The Minneapolis Fire Department says the fire started in a dumpster outside in a pile of debris before it spread to two adjacent homes. It’s something Gurey isn’t surprised to hear.
“There was a homeless person living in that corner. And I asked them to move out a few times. I didn’t want to call the police on them I didn’t want to cause them any harm, but they still wouldn’t move,” she said. “I spoke to my landlord two or three times that children were being cared for here and that they need to be doing something about it. So they moved away from my home to the home next door to me. Nothing was really done and this is what it came to.”
Her focus now is rebuilding and reopening for those families that have come to rely on her.
“I gave many hours to parents so they’re always always have somewhere that safe to bring to their children. From 5 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., I am the only place that is always there to provide care for children,” she said, pointing at the charred remains of her home and business. “It’s not important of what I had, but who I was caring for it was the most important thing to me.”
The West Bank Business Association has started a GoFundMe to help the business impacted by the fire.