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Renewed Vision

Nouradine and Mariam

Photo: Corey Rheingrover/IRC

In a recent newsletter in January, we shared Makia Adam’s story. This week we had the opportunity to speak with her father Nouradine. His journey to the US and story with the IRC is shared below.

Written by Hayley Drosky and Keshet Benschikovski

In 2003, following years of conflict and tension, the war in Darfur broke out, leaving millions of Sudanese people displaced.  In Nouradine’s village, the government began to seize property and commit genocide against the people.  For Nouradine, this meant losing livestock and his other means to subsist.  Unable to live in a barren village and seeking safety from further persecution, Nouradine and his family escaped Sudan in 2003, and they settled in the first refugee camp they could find in neighboring Chad that provided them with much needed protection.

However, Nouradine and his family faced many challenges in the camp.  Nouradine wished his children had access to higher quality schools and nutrition.  Even more critically, his family needed better medical care than the camp could provide, and he was beginning to notice his vision deteriorating.  After over 10 years living in the refugee camp, Nouradine and his family received the news that they were going to be resettled in Maryland, USA.

In September of 2015, Nouradine and his family were picked up at the airport by their IRC caseworker and driven to their new home, which the IRC had secured and furnished on behalf of the family.  In the first months, Nouradine recalled how the IRC made sure the family had access and means to adequate food, oriented them to public transportation and the community, enrolled the children in school, and assisted them in finding employment.  Special attention was given to one of Nouradine’s grandchildren, whose medical needs could finally be met in the U.S.  Ultimately, the family settled into their new home and life in the U.S. and were able to become self-sufficient. 

Since his arrival, Nouradine’s vision had deteriorated considerably and he discovered found out that he needed surgery for a cataract.  It was very difficult for Nouradine to navigate the complex health care system in the United States alone.  Fortunately, IRC staff and interns were able to step in and there to assist him by scheduling all the necessary appointments and accompanying him along the way.

In July of 2018, Nouradine went into surgery.  He recalls worrying about whether the surgery would be a success, but now he only notes the incredible improvement in his vision, saying it is 10 times better than before. He exclaimed, “Now I can do everything. I can read and write. Before I couldn’t see the letters, but now everything is fine!” His favorite way to spend his time is studying for his English classes.

Nouradine is very grateful he was able to resettle his family in the United States where he and his family could receive the advanced medical care they needed.  When asked if there was anything else he wished to share, Nouradine replied, “We have seen a lot of war and killing and we thank God that we came here and gave our children the opportunity to study and go to school.  We thank America and the IRC since 2015.” Nouradine envisions his children becoming successful and finding ways to help those in need – the same way he was helped.