A former refugee from East Africa calls SoCal home, she's now helping others do the same

Founder & Executive Director - The Tiyya Foundation  Founder (& Owner) - Flavors from Afar
Meymuna Hussein-Cattan: Founder & Executive Director - The Tiyya Foundation, Founder (& Owner) - Flavors from Afar Photo credit Matthew Palanca, Mythos One Media

LOS ANGELES (KNX) - In 2010, our KNX Hero of the Week, Meymuna Hussein-Cattanstarted The Tiyya Foundation with her mother to help refugees navigate the difficult transition from their place of origin to their new home.

A former refugee herself, Meymuna and her family came from East Africa to Southern California. She tells KNX reporter Heather Jorden, "I was born in a refugee camp after [my mom], and my dad fled Ethiopia in the '70s."

Meymuna and her family were resettled in southern California by the International Rescue Committee. Based on that experience, she realized she wanted to help others like her who have to start over in a new nation.

"While I was in grad school, I was really curious about the children like me. Like, how do you make things a little easier?" Meymuna said.

Meymuna and her mother Owliya Dima
Meymuna and her mother Owliya Dima Photo credit The Tiyya Foundation

With her mother's passion for helping fellow women and Meymuna's desire to help the kids, they decided to come up with an experience that would feel more communal.

Offering workshops, economic and educational opportunities for hundreds of families each year - refugees, immigrants, indigenous communities - anyone from anywhere can get the help they need through The Tiyya Foundation.

When hurdles arose, and they needed to figure out how they would sustain themselves, the Foundation got creative in the kitchen with a new social enterprise restaurant called Flavors From Afar.

"In 2021, we became a top 101 restaurant, and we still hold that title" Meymuna said.

The restaurant has also recently garnered the attention of MICHELIN, receiving their coveted Bib Gourmand - a rating that recognizes friendly establishments that serve good food at moderate prices.

Meymuna attributes the restaurant's success to two things - sustainability and "tapping the shoulders of the refugee community we work with."

"These dishes are curated once a month by a refugee chef, and we highlight a new country each time."

40% of proceeds from Flavors From Afar support Tiyya programs and services.

Meymuna says she's grateful to be able to use her experience to help others in similar situations.

"I was a witness to how strenuous and challenging it is to transition your life in America. So it's an honor to be in this position of mine."

Her dedication to those in need and her ability to impact the community in a big way makes Meymuna Hussein-Cattanour our KNX Hero of the Week.

Listen to the whole story above.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Matthew Palanca, Mythos One Media