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“Life is good here”: Catching up with Ismail and Safirah in Salt Lake City
December 20, 2012
By The IRC
Ismail Arafat and Safirah Omar, with their eight-month-old daughter Norwana, in downtown Salt Lake City, two weeks after their arrival in Utah.
You may remember Ismail Arafat and Safirah Omar, whose refugee journey began in 2003 when they left their conflict-ridden native country of Myanmar for neighboring Thailand. From there, smugglers transported them south to Malaysia.
An IRC caseworker helped the couple get on their feet during their first months in the U.S., working with them to find housing, jobs and medical care and to enroll in English classes.
Despite the difficulty of learning a new language, the family is doing well. They are sharing a home with relatives in Salt Lake City, where Ismail works as a custodian. His employer is very happy with his performance and recently gave him a raise.
Ismail just earned his driver's license and purchased his first car, enabling him to take a second, part-time job as a cleaner to build his family’s financial security. Safirah, who cares for their daughter full time, plans to start looking for work herself: Little Norwana begins preschool next fall.
“I am happy my English is improving,” he says, “because it means more opportunities for me and my family.”
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