NECN: Lauren Collins, Concord, NH) - In a 2009 interview with NECN, Bantu Somali refugees Batulo Mahamed and Salad Salad said they loved their life in America because they no longer lived in fear.
"If you have money, still have your money. If you have food, still have your food in United States," Mamamed said at the time.
But when their Concord, N.H. apartment was tagged with racist graffiti over the weekend, that sense of security was shattered.
"This gives me a little bit disappointed and also discouragement," said Salad through a translator Thursday. "I was very scared."
"First when I saw that message, I feel sad," agreed Mahamed, adding, "And now I feel happy."
That’s because on Thursday, area residents and faith leaders staged a noon time rally at the Thompson Street house to drown out echoes of hatred.
Police Chief Duval told the crowd from the home’s front steps, "Your presence here today demonstrates in a very powerful way the courage a community needs to combat fear."
Police are concerned whoever is responsible for this vandalism is the same person who tagged two immigrant homes last September and that words could escalate to action. The graffiti is gone, replaced by this banner made by the family's neighbors.
"The person who did this is doing it out of ignorance because they don't know what these people have gone through in order to be here," said Fran Philippe of Concord whose church has helped resettle the family.
Mahamed and Salad stayed in a Kenyan refugee camp before their family was offered safe haven in the U.S. in 2004. They had to leave a son behind.
"I want them to feel like they want to feel," said Governor John Lynch adding that they’re a great family. "Like they're home and I want them to feel like they're a part of our larger family here in New Hampshire."
With this show of support, they do.
"I want to say thank you," said Mahamed. "They make me happy."
"This community, and this great show up gives me a lot of courage for me to live," said Salad. "I love my neighbors."