Being a stranger in a new country can be scary, disorienting, and overwhelming. It takes inner strength to face the challenges that come with unfamiliar surroundings and an unfamiliar language. But there are opportunities for help.
This is a story of a mother and daughter refugees who arrived in Winnebago County needing employment and transportation assistance to aid them in their determination for self-sustainability and to plan for their future.
Welcome to Your New Home
Sharifa and her daughter Farishta fled Afghanistan after the fall of their country’s government. They left for America after a tearful separation from the rest of their family and found themselves in Oshkosh, where they were welcomed by World Relief of Fox Valley for assistance in connecting with their new community. Their lives may have been upended, but Farishta and Sharifa found their inner power to reestablish themselves.
World Relief assisted with resettling Farishta and Sharifa in their new community where they faced a different environment, language, and cultural norms. Sharifa set out to learn the new city while Farishta enrolled at the local high school. However, mother and daughter also understood how important it was to find meaningful employment to grow and sustain a new life. They were adamant about finding stability so they could bring over the rest of their family from Afghanistan. So, they were referred to us.
A Team Effort
When Sharifa and Farishta approached us, our case manager helped them to identify their immediate barriers and goals. They knew they wanted employment for consistent income, but also realized that transportation would be a challenge toward that goal. They did not have a vehicle, and language barriers presented a challenge to the public transit system. After consideration, we co-enrolled them in our Road to Livelihood program and Wisconsin Works (W-2).
Road to Livelihood provided the family with essential services to learn English, plan for transportation, find community resources, and find job openings. In partnership with the Good Neighbor Volunteer team at World Relief, they quickly learned the public bus routes to navigate the city. Road to Livelihood also offered more one-on-one help for them as they learned the details of the employment process.
Wisconsin Works helped them with employment by exploring their skills and interests, giving them career guidance, and some additional financial assistance in the form of vouchers for the bus to get to and from school and interviews.
It was important to them to find high wage jobs somewhere that also valued and accepted them.
Taking Care of Each Other
Our team of case managers worked with Sharifa and Farishta to find the right employer for their needs. After a little searching, the team found open positions at a retirement community. Sharifa interviewed for a full-time position while Farishta interviewed for part-time employment that allowed her to work around her school schedule.
Emily Buchholz, the Road to Livelihood case manager, Megan Thoman, the Wisconsin Works case manager, and Angie Fralish, one of our job developers, walked the women through the new hire documents, arranged necessary translation, and facilitated an employability workshop to aid them in the hiring process. Within a couple weeks, they were on their way to self-sustainability.
After settling into their new positions and new home, they are happy to be working somewhere that is so accommodating to their needs and help them succeed and overcome the language barrier. They have a new sense of independence. Now, they can navigate the bus on their own and are learning more English skills by being exposed to more people and a new environment.
They are now further toward their goal of reuniting with the rest of their family by bringing them here to their new home.