SAN FRANCISCO (HawaiiNewsNow) - The father of a teenager who stowed away on a flight from San Jose to Kahului plans to fly to Hawaii soon to take his son back to California.
The family of Yahya Abdi, 15, released a statement through a civil rights group called the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
"The family is very relieved about their son's safety. I think for the last week everyone has had the opportunity to learn about the harrowing circumstances of the trip, the very low likelihood of survival," said Zahra Billoo, CAIR's executive director.
The teenager told investigators on Maui that he climbed into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines plane after running away from the California home he shares with his father and stepmother. The boy was trying to reunite with his mother in Africa after just learning that she was alive, according to San Jose authorities.
"The family spent a lot of time displaced in Somalia and as a result of sort of the war-like conditions of that country the son had not had any formal education before arriving in the United States," explained Billoo.
Abdulahi Yusuf said his son is struggling to adjust to life in the U.S. as a high school student.
"The dad said that he was a really good kid and that he is loved dearly by his family," Billoo said. "Overall it was a very difficult situation and school was possibly the hardest of all of those pieces."
But once he returns to California, Abdi will face the same challenges.
"In this era of bullying and cyberspace and social media, things are already so difficult for youth, further aggravated for recent immigrants at times. I hope that they will get the social services that they need," said Billoo.
The teen's relatives understand all the international interest in the story, but are hoping for privacy so they can focus on moving forward.
"He is recovering and everybody is just hoping to be reunited soon," Billoo said.
The teenager remains hospitalized at the Kapiolani Medical Center. The Daily Mail reports that his mother is in a refugee camp and is now trying to immigrate to America.