A Frightening Past, an Uncertain Future: Hajer’s story
Hajer is a 38-year-old Iraqi refugee and a single mother of three children, ages 16, 12 and 4. Her husband was killed after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Hajer arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 28, 2008 and has tried to find her footing ever since. She does not speak English and could only afford English classes at a local college for one semester. She has no other family in the U.S and her only support system is her International Rescue Committee caseworker and other Iraqi war widows in similar situations.
Hajer is struggling with the demands of being a single parent and the trauma of losing her husband, her home and her country. She lies awake at night worrying how she will keep a roof over her family’s head and afford clothes or school supplies for her children.
In December 2008, Hajer was hired at a local daycare center that let her bring her daughter to work. But after Hajer fell ill, she was replaced. She is currently seeking a job while trying to survive on public assistance and food stamps.
For the past three months, Hajer and her children have survived through an IRC administered state grant that covers the difference between cash assistance and monthly rent. But this funding will likely last for only another three months. To make matters worse, public cash assistance will cover the family for a total of only six months.
Hajer is in the U.S. because she cannot safely return to Iraq. She believes that her family has much to contribute to their new country. If she can obtain financial support for just six more months, she can continue to study English, enabling her to find work and provide for her family.
Food on the table, a roof overhead:
Essential Services for Newly Resettled Refugees
On top of the linguistic, educational, and cultural challenges refugees normally confront upon arrival, families like Hajer’s now face a troubling economic climate which puts them at serious risk of hunger and homelessness. In Phoenix alone, where Hajer lives, 97 families are now at risk of losing their housing. If refugees cannot find employment within their first three months in the U.S., they must go on public assistance. Job opportunities in the communities where refugees resettle are fast disappearing, and some refugees find themselves suddenly unable to pay rent or feed their families. The IRC has even become aware of cases where refugees have contacted family and friends still living in refugee camps overseas to request money or assistance. Providing ample support to enable refugees to achieve success and self-reliance has never been more crucial.
Urge President Obama and Secretary Clinton to modernize the U.S. Refugee Admission Program and increase funding to welcome and assist Iraqi refugees and others who are fleeing persecution and violence. Sign the petition >