Refugee Moves Forward Toward the "American Dream"
Afrah’s story is a shining example of a refugee who is working hard to build a bright future in Charlottesville. Afrah arrived in Charlottesville in November 2009 with 4 children from ages 3 to 14. As a single mother from Baghdad, Iraq, Afrah went to great lengths to bring her children to safety. When she was told about the hard work and perseverance it would take to support her family in Charlottesville, Afrah was on board from day one.
Photo: Courtney Cook/The IRC
In Baghdad, Afrah worked two jobs to provide for her family and was prepared to do it again. Her English was excellent when she arrived and she was hired as a part-time interpreter for the IRC after a few months. Finding a second full-time job was much more difficult. In a time when Americans were having trouble finding entry-level work, it was especially challenging for a newcomer with no American work history. Afrah applied everywhere - from hotels to pet stores to the hospital - even to the U.S. Census Bureau. Her first interview was with the Police Department for a Records Specialist position where she endured a lengthy panel interview with several police officers!
Afrah was finally hired by Sam’s Club as a cashier in June 2010. While her children were adjusting to their busy school schedule, Afrah excelled at her new job. In January 2011, she was awarded Associate of the Month for the second time. It is no surprise that she is currently interviewing for a supervisor position within Sam’s Club. Afrah says that her manager “has big plans for her.”