Olympic Champ: I Was Trafficked as a Child, Forced Into Servitude

Mo Farah says that's how he ended up in UK
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2022 3:00 AM CDT
Olympic Star Says He Was Trafficked to UK as a Child
Britain's Mo Farah, right, runs as a pacemaker during the London Marathon in London, England, Oct. 4, 2020.   (Adam Davy/Pool via AP, File)

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah says he was illegally trafficked to the UK at age 9 and forced to work in domestic servitude, looking after another family's children. The long-distance runner made the revelation in a documentary debuting Wednesday on the BBC. The 39-year-old says he was born Hussein Abdi Kahin and that the people who flew him out of east Africa changed his name to Mohamed Farah. Born in Somalia, he escaped the war-torn region and went to live with family in Djibouti at age 8 or 9, he says. When a woman he'd never met before arrived to take him away from there, she claimed she was bringing him to live with family in Europe.

He says he was "excited": "I'd never been on a plane before." But instead, he says, she brought him to her own home in the UK, took the piece of paper with his family's contact information, and ripped it up. She then forced him to do housework and childcare if he wanted to be fed, he says. "For years I just kept blocking it out," he says in the documentary. "But you can only block it out for so long." Farah has previously said his parents sent him and two siblings to London for a better life, the Guardian reports. Eventually, Farah says in the documentary, a teacher helped him get out of the situation he was in and he started being fostered by another Somali family. He eventually got UK citizenship. He says he will continue to go by the name Mo Farah. (More Mo Farah stories.)

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