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COVID-19 response

A nurse practitioner and refugee explains why she gives back

Torbertha Torbor is one of the many thousands of refugees and immigrants working in health care on the frontlines against COVID-19. After her family fled war in Liberia and was resettled by the International Rescue Committee in Oakland, California, Torbertha became a nurse practitioner in the hopes of giving back to her community.

Read the full video transcript

Video Transcript

Torbertha: “I work at a clinic where I’m a provider. I work with a lot of refugees and immigrants and people who can’t really afford health care.”

Torbertha is a nurse practitioner and refugee working on the frontlines of COVID-19.

Torbertha: “One of the misconceptions that people have about refugees’ experience in the United States is that people think refugees are just coming over here just because they want to come here. But what they don’t understand is that we are forced to leave our homes.

"I was little when the first war came. It took away everything I ever had. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. We just left everything behind. Staying in the refugee camp, it took a long time and eventually we [my family] came to the U.S.

"The IRC has done so many good things for me and my family. It was difficult at first. I didn’t speak English, and volunteers from IRC would make sure I was in the right classes to help me be successful. They also helped tutor me and take me to the library, take me to events that it was mostly English speaking.

"After I graduated high school, I went to [University of California] Berkeley. I’ve always wanted to be a nurse practitioner so I went back to school and I got my master’s in science and nurse practitioning. The tests are very difficult and they are nerve-wracking, so passing the board exam, it felt like everything I ever wished for just came true. My mission was always to give back to my community.”

The IRC helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.