BBQ Fest has been rescheduled to the Summer - Due to annual maintenance, the Gateway Fountain is closed for the month of February.
January 3, 2024

Meet Kasem “Captain” Adig the Discovery Green security guard with an amazing life story

If you’ve visited Discovery Green in the last 13 years you’ve seen Kasem “Captain” Adig. For eight hours a day, five days a week, he wears a yellow “security” vest and walks all parts of this urban oasis’ 12 acres to keep its roughly 2 million annual visitors safe.

Just as Discovery Green has surprises around every corner, Captain’s life story is filled with twists, turns and the unexpected. This soft-spoken man is kind, commanding and fluent in five languages. He’s worked as a golf pro for rich tourists in Africa and as a parking attendant, but he built a life in Houston only after winning a lottery.

Captain arrives at Discovery Green at 6:30 am and makes himself a pot of very strong coffee. By the time he takes his lunch at 11:30 am, the clock on his phone tells him it’s 8:30 pm in Asmara, Eritrea where he was born. He imagines his family back home will be sitting down for the evening meal and wonders what they’re eating.

In this way, he lives his life in two time zones.

He arrived in Houston in 1995 after winning a diversity visa lottery. He came alone, leaving his wife and six children behind. He worked 80 hours a week until he could afford to bring his family to Houston with him, one and two at a time. By 2002 they were all living with him and in 2005 he was able to buy them a house. It was not easy, but he tackled every obstacle with a sense of humor.

For example, in 1995 he went to his first job interview in Houston and the man asked him how long he’d been in the country. After finding out Captain had been in the country less than a week, the man told him to apply again when he’d been here longer.

“I was about to leave, but then I turned around,” Captain says. “I asked him, ‘did you know, I’m new to the country, but I’m not new to this job? I’ve worked in a garage before.’ The man started laughing so hard and then he hired me!”

On the weekends, when he’s not at work he loves going to church and then eating with his family. He loves telling his kids stories about the country where they’re from. Now his children are all happy, grown and married which gives him the opportunity to reflect.

“Step by step I made my way,” he said.  “Then I was breathing deeply, and I say thank god. It was a good struggle I would say.”

Still, he thinks of home and the brother he left behind that he speaks to only every so often through facetime. In Houston, where one in four residents are foreign born, it’s a habit many are familiar with.

If you could see the ties attached to every heart that moves through Discovery Green, you would see a web that stretches around the whole world.  

People like Captain, whose daily presence at Discovery Green keeps visitors safe, are among the reasons Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to shine a light on the diversity of traditions that exist in Houston.

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Kasem Captain Adig is a security guard at Discovery Green