Photo: Emily Coyle/IRC
Daniel Tewolde spent more than six years living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Upon arriving in the U.S. this past March, the 30-year-old refugee from Eritrea had little hope for finding a job he enjoyed – especially with no professional experience and little education. After only three months and with the help of the IRC in Tucson’s Employment and Economic Development program, Daniel began a job as a caregiver with Desert Horizons Communities, which provides day programs for people with developmental disabilities.
“I never expected this work,” Daniel said. “It’s very good work. We help people, and when you do the work, you see the result. The clients are excited and say thank you.”
Daniel is one of several IRC in Tucson clients who has found work at Desert Horizons communities. He participated in the IRC in Tucson’s Employment and Economic Development program, which holds job training classes, conducts mock interviews, helps clients apply for jobs and provides coaching and mentorship throughout employment. For refugees, the result is employment and self-sufficieny; for employers, it’s knowing their refugee employees truly want to be there and are well-prepared.
“Daniel and our other refugee employees are very hard workers, eager to learn and appreciative to have a job,” said Shields. “Serving people with developmental disabilities is not an easy job, but our refugee employees are there wanting to absorb everything that’s going on and they don’t miss a beat. It’s definitely made our company richer because we’ve been able to have the kind of employee that you always want.”
His role as a caregiver at Desert Horizons fulfills Daniel’s passion for helping people while working in a supportive environment on his path toward meeting his goals.
“The managers are like family; they help us and they are there to talk when we need to about difficult things,” Daniel said. “When I was in the refugee camp I didn’t have anything. Now I have a job and a goal. I want to go to nursing school.”