...“I loved it; I’d love to do it again. It will fulfill you when you help those hundreds of people every day. That’s what I care about: my people. It’s one of the obligations that follows me wherever I go, even here." Later he joined IRD (International Relief and Development), a U.S. non-profit that helped stabilize dangerous communities. Because of his involvement with the U.S., his home was regularly under surveillance. After a sudden and threatening confrontation at his home, he fled for the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and obtained a Special Immigrant Visa. On July 4th, 2012, Nawar arrived in Rochester, N.Y with his wife and son, he was naturalized five years later in 2017. Nawar identifies as Iraqi-American but segregating people by race was a huge cultural shift. He explained that “in Iraq, all people are Iraqi. We don’t put your color in front of your identity. That’s one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with.” He learned to take the positives from each culture and enjoy them. He says you don’t need to change; you have to keep yourself and show who you are.
…accompanied her the entire time. She said, “the language barrier didn’t matter, the way she treated me made me feel like everything I heard in Nepal was wrong… They say people in the U.S. treat you badly, but people are trying to learn and help Nepali people. That’s what surprised me." It was hard to adapt to a new culture without knowing anything about it. She started to enjoy living in Rochester as she learned about the culture and made new friends. She sees herself as American and Nepali. “My culture is something I can’t hide, but America has given me a lot, [a] good education, a better life.” Her family knew they weren’t going back to Nepal, so they made the decision to become citizens. She said, “once you become a citizen, you’re American; when you come here, you come home. When I’m in Rochester, I feel like I’m home.”
…without eating meat or drinking clear water. People are afflicted with malnutrition and malaria, but the lack of healthcare and even physical beds, makes people hesitant to seek care. There’s no opportunity for jobs or education, and Abdullahi wanted that chance. In 2007, he came to Rochester, N.Y. through the U.N. immigration process. Abdullahi says he’s proud to be part of the American community. “In the U.S. you can vote, and people can vote for you. You become part of the community and your voice is counted.” He identifies as Somali-Ugandan American saying, “I have three experiences." Abdullahi works at Mary’s Place Outreach and coaches a youth soccer team for refugees. His goal is to open a free library in Uganda where children can learn and get food. This library would benefit the whole community, creating cooking and serving jobs for women at the camp and functioning as childcare for working mothers. He’s been collecting books and supplies since 2019 and is working with donors and volunteers in Uganda. He also advocates for the establishment of a holiday on January 1st to celebrate the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are assigned a New Year’s Day birthday when they arrive in the U.S.