One Determined Refugee Achieves Her Dream: To Become a Nurse
All refugees face loss when they flee their homes. There is a loss of family, homeland, friends and security. Many also lose their careers. For refugees in our community, getting the chance to practice their previous profession in the US can be tremendously challenging.
Sara was resettled by the IRC a few years ago, and ever since she arrived in the US she has worked hard to achieve one goal: to become certified as a nurse in the US. Sara achieved this in late 2012 after years of applying, waiting, and studying, and while Sara is very satisfied that she is working in the health profession to help improve the lives of others, she still lives in fear. Just like many others in the Eritrean refugee community, she is afraid for her relatives who remain in Eritrea; if word gets back to that country that Sara is living in the US, her relatives could be imprisoned and she could be blackmailed.
Sara left her home country of Eritrea a few years ago, shortly after getting married. Her husband had to leave the country separately and in secret, and Sara did the same. She made it to another country, where at least she was safe, even if she was facing new obstacles: she was unable to work, and had to rely on the generosity of others to help her survive. Her husband left for America to be resettled as a refugee with the assistance of the IRC. For one long year, Sara was alone, separated from her husband and unable to tell her siblings still living in Eritrea where she was.
When she was finally able to join her husband in the US, Sara was joyful that one burden had been lifted – she was no longer alone, and shortly after her arrival Sara and her husband started their family. After their new baby was born, Sara learned of a new position at a local health promotion organization through her IRC case worker, who encouraged her and helped her apply for the position. Sara’s new job was to serve as a health promoter within the Eritrean community. At the same time, Sara continued to work on getting approved to take the certification test to become a registered nurse here in the US. This long process required her to provide documentation regarding her previous work and education experience, something that was difficult considering she wanted to limit her contact with anyone in Eritrea.
In the fall of 2012, Sara was approved to take the test, and spent four months studying for the exam. She passed, and is delighted and proud that she is now a registered nurse. She continues to work as a health promoter with a focus on diabetes education. Sara says that the most difficult part of this job is trying to explain to people that even though they do not feel sick, they should still be concerned about their health; however, she says that one of the rewards of her job is watching people’s health improve every day. She thanks the IRC frequently for the assistance she received, and will continue to try to serve the refugee community.