On International Women’s Day, March 8, we honor the courage, strength, and resilience of refugee women like Almaz.
Before being resettled in Indianapolis, Almaz was surrounded by corruption and injustice in her home country of Ethiopia. Escalating violence forced her to flee for her life to Sudan in 2005. From there, she traveled to Libya, and finally Malta–seeking a safe country to call home.
After three years of interviews and background checks, Almaz and her then 2-year old daughter Delina were accepted for resettlement in the United States. Finally, they would be safe. Exodus was there to welcome them at the airport and take them to their new apartment.
Almaz remembers the challenges of her first year in Indianapolis.“There was a lot of snow, I had no car, and we had to ride the bus in the cold,” she said. With help from Exodus’ employment team, Almaz found her first job at a warehouse, but transportation was a barrier. Exodus provided transportation to and from work until she found someone to carpool with. Almaz also enrolled in our Women’s Program to ensure she had additional support to achieve her goals. The Women’s Program empowers refugee women with education, social engagement, and resources that build their confidence and promote self-sufficiency.
Four years later, Almaz and Delina are thriving. She has her driver’s license and her own car and is able to pay her bills. “Life is better. I have money to buy what my daughter and I desire,” Almaz says.
Almaz still works incredibly hard to take care of her family. Every morning, she takes Delina to daycare at 6:30 am, picks her back up after work in the afternoon, and then goes to English class close to her home. English is Almaz’s 10th language. She is studying hard because in eight months, she will be eligible to apply for her U.S. citizenship. “I go to English class so that I can apply for my citizenship on my own and pass the civics exam. I also have a cassette that I listen to in my car to help me practice.” Her next goal is to own her own home and hopefully bring her brother to the U.S.
She is also hopeful that she will one day be able to help other women who have experienced trauma and injustices around the world. “I wish to tell all women that they should always be strong and confident. If you are strong and confident then you can get what you want.”
Almaz has such a big heart and we are so proud of all she has accomplished.
According to the UNHCR, 50% of refugees in the world are women and girls. In times of displacement, they are even more at risk for discrimination and violence due to their gender. We are grateful for the support of people like YOU who make it possible for refugee women like Almaz to build a life of safety and freedom in Indianapolis. Read more refugee women’s stories here and here.