When refugees escape danger in their home countries and arrive in the U.S., they still face countless barriers to the American Dream. Activities that come second nature to Americans, such as speaking English and navigating the healthcare system, can be foreign and confusing to refugees. This adjustment process is complex enough for an able-bodied person, let alone someone who is disabled.
Arriving in an Unfamiliar Country
Nik Qadam Ayam and his family arrived from war-torn Afghanistan in August 2017. Being legally blind, Nik knew it would be an especially difficult transition. His parents didn’t speak English or have any transferable job skills in the U.S.
Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement program met Nik and his family at the airport and brought them to their new home, which included all the items they needed to begin their lives in America. Refugee Resettlement also provides English language courses, job readiness, resume building, an introduction to public transportation, and more.
Building New Lives in the U.S.
Nik’s parents immediately began working and saving money for the future. Nik improved his English skills to the point where he became fluent. He even offered to provide interpretation services to Catholic Charities so that the community could benefit from his skills.
With the help of assistive technologies, Nik was able to complete his GED. For example, a screen reader program allows him to read email content by listening to it in audio form or using a text-to-braille function.
Finding Stability and a Sense of Direction
He and his sister are currently attending Glendale Community College. Nik is hoping to eventually transfer to Arizona State University and obtain a degree in Business Administration. The family has also recently accomplished their goal of purchasing their own home.
It’s no doubt that Nik’s love of learning and kind nature will take him far in life. He and his family are shining examples of hard work, responsibility, and perseverance in the face of great odds.
Refugees like Nik and his family often arrive in the U.S. with little to no personal belongings. Donating online or donating items through our Amazon Wish List is a simple, effective way to make sure refugees have what they need to make a fresh start.