Ask a Refugee: When I First Arrived

Ask a Refugee: When I First Arrived

photo by Chris Barbalis

A few weeks ago, we asked our fans what they want to know about refugees. They responded with some great questions and our Associates were gracious enough to open up honestly about their experiences. This is the first post in a series of insights into the relocation, retold by those who have experienced it firsthand. The first question we’ll tackle is “What were your initial experiences in the U.S.?” Here’s Najiba’s story:

When I first came it was hard. I did not want to be here. For first year before having a job – one year – I sat at home all day. I was missing my family and crying all of the time. I didn’t know my way around, so it was hard to go anywhere or get what I needed. I got lost while walking to store and the only people I could call didn’t know their way around. English was hard for me, so I couldn’t tell people what I needed or ask for help. I live with my husband and brother-in-law. We had to carry groceries in backpacks from Walmart and sometimes take three trips because we didn’t have a car. It took us one and a half hours to walk to Walmart. We were happy when someone gave us bicycles. We had to ride them to go to the grocery store. We parked them outside our apartment and someone stole them the next day. One day, I saw a bus pulling up as I was walking home from the store, so I got on, but I did not know they had routes. When he started to drive in a different direction from my apartment I yelled, “Stop! That’s not the way to my apartment!” But he could not help me because he had to stay on his route. He was kind and stopped the bus to let me off so I could walk home. After I learned the bus route, I saw him driving a bus again and I told him I knew where I was going this time and I would not yell at him. He smiled at me. Life is better now, but it was so hard when I first came to the United States.

Read more of Najiba’s story HERE.

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