In his early 20s, Lahcen Oujani (Lah-sen Oo-joo-knee) applied for the visa lottery and then returned to his daily life in Fez, Morocco. In the late 90s, he was surprised to receive news he could immigrate to the United States.
“It feels out-of-the blue and unplanned when you find out. Then you must pack your bags and go,” Oujani said. “I wanted to continue my education, but when I got here, I decided to go to work instead.”
Oujani was in his late 20s when he arrived in New York. He spent time in South Carolina and Illinois working as a big rig driver hauling product across the country, sometimes being away from home for months at a time.
“When you move, you have to start all over, from scratch,” he said. “It’s tough. First you must find a job, and then a community. It’s fine when you’re single to be away for so long, but my plans changed.”
In 2000, he arrived in Minnesota hoping to start a family, build relationships in a community and find a job that would support his new lifestyle. He found Metro Transit in 2004. Now, he’s able to spend more time with his family and community, especially for Ramadan.
“Minnesota feels like home now and so does Metro Transit,” he said. “My hours are flexible, so I can better plan for how I can celebrate Ramadan with my family and community, especially Iftar.”
He finds it difficult when he's unable to attend Iftar or breaking the day's fast with family and friends due to work. “However, sometimes we need to make sacrifices, just like fasting for Ramadan,” Oujani said. “As an instructor, I try to help any practicing Muslims navigate work and community life.”