Reflections on life and owning a childcare business during the pandemic

Headshot of Laylo Hamud

We had a chance to sit down with the dynamic, energetic Laylo Hamud from Somalia. It’s always a pleasure to hear her perspective on life, owning a business and keeping family close.

Being a business owner during the pandemic

In 2009, Laylo arrived in Boise from Kenya, where she’d been living in a refugee camp for 18 years. She started a childcare business in Boise not long after she came to the Treasure Valley. What she didn’t foresee were the challenges her business would face in 2020 when the pandemic hit Idaho and the United States.

“Once the pandemic started, the number of kids I watched decreased by half,” she said. “I went from ten children to five. Parents were worried about leaving kids at a childcare business. And some moms and dads had to leave their jobs during the pandemic and ended up keeping their children at home.”

Laylo says all these changes were very stressful and left her on edge about being able to properly care for her family. “I had one client bringing her kids to me for five years and she had to leave her teaching job,” she said. “She ended up keeping her children at home. That’s just how it was during the pandemic.”

Currently Laylo watches kids from Russia, Somalia, the U.S. and other countries. She loves being with children and has a natural ability to lead and nurture. She also loves that she has a Somali network of women childcare business owners here in Boise. There are two other Somalian women here who are childcare owners. “We are in constant communication with one another and help each other where we can,” she said. “We are good friends and refer clients to each other.”

Why she recommends EO

When asked what she would say to other refugees looking for work — whether they want to start a childcare business or another type of business — she says EO can show them the way. “EO will help you achieve your dreams,” she said. “They will open doors so you can be successful and support your family. They care about refugees and understand what we have been through.”

Laylo says the team at EO is very helpful and knowledgeable. “They’ll show you how to open a restaurant or another type of businesses, or become a bus driver, truck driver or get a license for your business,” she said. “They can help you get a car if you need one for your childcare, and they can show you how to build your credit. I’m very thankful to everyone at EO — we love them and are very grateful—they still call and check on us. They really care about people.”

The importance of family

Laylo says what’s most important to her is being with her family, especially during difficult times like the pandemic. Together with her husband, she has a young son and daughter. “Family is everything to me,” she said. “I am lucky to get to be around the people I love most.”

Laylo also enjoys spending time with her extended family. Her mother, four brothers and sister also live in Boise. One of her brothers is a home care supervisor and her sister has two years left at Boise State. She is a political science major and works at the university while going to school.

A leader in the Somalian community

Although she’s a busy mom and business owner, Laylo remains an active member of Boise’s Somali community. She says when she arrived in 2009 there weren’t many Somalis in the Treasure Valley, but now they have a large, thriving community. “There are more Somali stores and businesses opening all the time,” Laylo said. “Somalis are going to school here, buying houses, and are very successful at their different endeavors. I’m proud of the great things they’re doing.”

Overall, 2020 and the pandemic brought unique challenges to the Somali community. “Our community is doing great,” Laylo said. “We’re getting used to a new normal. I’m constantly calling members of our community to see how they’re doing. I encourage everyone to get the vaccine and stay healthy. In our community, many people, myself included, have their older parents at home. We need to protect them.”

Lessons from living in a refugee camp

Although her life is different now, for which Laylo says she is grateful, she hasn’t forgotten the hard lessons she learned from living in large refugee camp in Kenya called Hagadhera for many years. “Life in the camp helped make me stronger,” she said. “It helped me be grateful for what I have today — I appreciate what I have with everything I am. I was four months old when my family moved to the camp. You can’t be soft when you live in a refugee camp. My mom and dad worked so hard to feed us help us get an education there, which I appreciate so much. I helped them raise my siblings there, too. We all worked together.”

Laylo, you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for your bright, shining spirit and the great things you do for Boise and the Somali community. We are lucky to have you here in the Treasure Valley.

EO is grateful to have the partnership, collaboration and support of our work with refugee childcare providers from Latter-day Saint Charities and CapEd Credit Union.