“R” is a young woman from an East African country. She was sleeping one evening in her home with her siblings and parents when the police entered the home and started killing her family. Their only crime was that the father was outspoken about the current political regime. She escaped the chaos after witnessing her parents’ murder. She does not know if any of her siblings escaped and if they did escape where they are now.
Through a church in her hometown she was sent to the United States for her safety. When she arrived the church had arranged for her to live with a family from her country that lived in the Baltimore area. Unfortunately this family viewed her more as a domestic slave rather than a frightened and emotionally scarred young woman. Luckily they did allow her to visit an attorney to help with her asylum case. Her attorney referred her to Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE)
When she first came to us she could barely speak. Her eyes were always filled with tears and she never made eye contact with anyone. We tried to get her to come to the AWE programming but the family would not allow her to leave their home since she was the primary caretaker for their child. We had to plan things for holidays or in the evening. We brought her to our “clothing exchange” since she had only a few tops and pants – no shoes for the winter and no warm weather clothing.
She came to celebrate Thanksgiving with AWE and began to open up about her living situation. She was afraid to leave for fear the family would be upset with her but she knew that to claim her life she had to leave.
Through the AWE network we were able to find her safe housing. After only a few months in AWE housing she began to heal.
One day at programming she told us that she couldn’t remember the last time she cried herself to sleep. That used to be how she would fall asleep every night but now she had hope and was feeling better! When she received her asylum status from the government she immediately registered for classes at the community college. She was so excited to start school. She had plans to start college in her home country before her life was interrupted. She never thought she would be able to go to school again. She stopped by programming for a visit recently and we were amazed at the new person we were seeing. She was smiling, laughing and just shining! She is so talkative now you would never know that just months ago she was nearly devastated.