Stories of New Beginnings

Aline, like many refugees before her, came to the United States because of war. Aline was a young mother of 5 children. When war broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo her husband was one of the first to be killed.  She stayed hoping that things would calm, and she was very hesitant to leave her home land. Unfortunately, that hope ended late one night when Aline and her children were forced to flee from terrorists who started their house on fire.

“We fled into the bush in the middle of the night and walked and walked until we reached Uganda.” Aline quickly realized there were many refugees already in Uganda and no future for them there, with limited resources and the constant fear that someone would recognize them and report their whereabouts to those seeking to harm them.

“I knew we would not be safe until we left Africa,” Aline said.

Unfortunately, the refugee process moves very slowly.  Aline and her children lived in constant fear for 10 years until they were finally granted refugee legal status and were able to travel to the United States a year and a half ago.

Now Aline and her family call the United States “home.” During the first 3 months in the United States the Catholic Charities staff assisted her in securing safe and stable housing, clothing, food, and enrolled her youngest into school. Aline and her daughters enrolled in ESL classes and participated in employment services, finding employment very quickly.  A year and a half later, Aline and her children work as well as attend school, with her two oldest now working their way through college.


Mahmoud, has seen his county of Syria once a peaceful and beautiful country turn into a war zone, with unimaginable numbers of civilians killed. He knew that once the bombings came there was no life left for his wife and young child there. They fled, escaping to Turkey but they were not wanted there, seen only as a burden along with the other millions of refugees without a home. He applied for refugee status and waited for many years for word.

With a notice of deportation from Turkey in hand

(as refugees do not have any legal standing in the countries they flee to), the news that he and his small family would travel to the United States to reunite with his parents and brothers came just in time. The hardships don’t end when you arrive into the US, but Mahmoud’s positive attitude and willingness to push himself to go out and learn all that he could has led him to a new beginning. With the assistance of the Match Grant Employment Program and his own motivation, he now works and is helping his wife look for employment. He is proficient at the bus and is quick to help others learn as well.


Opap and his wife, Ethiopian refugees, lived in a Kenyan refugee camp almost their entire lives, and started to raise their two young children there as well,

never giving up hope that one day they would be with family

in the United States and have a real home. After years of waiting they reunited with family this year, and to their great joy and surprise close friends from their many years in Kenya as well.  Opap and his family are a perfect example of how good case management and supportive volunteers can make all the difference. Only months after arrival Opap and his wife are now working full time jobs, their children are in school, and they see only the possibilities that exist with life in their new home. They also take out of their busy lives to help newly arrived refugees learn their way and see their future in this new place they call home.

More Stories

·       Empowering Refugees in Resettlement

·       Should We Embrace the “Refugee” in All of Us?

·       Sweet Dreams