New Car Means New Opportunities for Refugees
Abdirizack Abdirahman was beaming with pride when he drove his newly-purchased Nissan sedan to the IRC offices on a recent Friday afternoon.
Abdirizack, a Somali refugee who had been staying in a camp in Uganda before making his new home in Tucson in September at the invitation of the U.S. government, had, until recently, relied on public transportation and the kindness of friends to get him around the city and to and from work.
“I had to refuse extra hours at work because I couldn’t get there in time,” Abdirizack said. “Sometimes, I would wait half an hour to 45 minutes for a bus to take me to work; on weekends, it could be up to an hour, and if I missed the bus, that was it – I could be an hour or more late to work. There was a lot of pressure and it was very stressful.”
Abdirizack Abdirahman and his new car. (Photo credit: Emily Coyle/IRC)
Through the IRC’s Employment and Economic Development (EED) Department, Abdirizack learned about Individual Development Account (IDA) program, through which he could be eligible for an IRC grant of up to $2,000 to match his personal savings. To qualify, he needed to provide three pay stubs from his job, save for a minimum of three months, and attend financial literacy. With assistance from the IRC EED department, Abdirizack did land a job within three months of arriving in Tucson and was soon eligible to apply and be accepted into the IDA program. Four months later, he purchased his new car.
“Now, I can work more hours – if I’m called into work, I can be there in 15 minutes,” Abdirizack said. “I can make more money and save up for school.”
Abdirizack is working on completing his GED, and plans to apply to the University of San Diego to study nursing.
“I want to serve people,” Abdirizack grinned. “And it pays well to be an RN.”