Each refugee who arrives here has their own story of strength and resilience, much like Hagir. She grew up in Darfur, where since 2003 there has been growing political tension and unrest. In Sudan, she started her journey as a human rights activist, working to help educate women about how to care for themselves during pregnancy and advocating against child-marriage and gender-based violence. As a survivor of gender-based violence herself, she wanted to make sure her community could be a safer place for women and girls.
In 2019, Hagir participated in protests in Sudan, advocating for democracy and protections for women and children. She was arrested by violent police forces several times but did not give up. She quickly rose to prominence in the protest movement, becoming a leader and receiving some international attention for her advocacy.
Eventually, however, Hagir became pregnant with her first child. Once she learned she was pregnant with a girl; she realized that her family would be in danger if she stayed in Sudan. She came to the United States to seek asylum, arriving about 5 months into her pregnancy. A friend helped connect her to Exodus.
Exodus helped Hagir receive medical care and benefits, connected her to English classes, and helped her find an attorney who could assist with her asylum case. Hagir gave birth to her daughter who turned two this year. She was also connected to an agency that provided rental assistance and an agency that helped provide daycare and transportation assistance so that she could work toward self-sufficiency.
Hagir said starting over has not been easy. “You have to be very strong—the first year is very difficult,” Hagir said. However, when she wanted to give up, the support she received from Exodus, her family and the local community made all the difference.
“It is a journey you can only take one day at a time.”
Now, Hagir is working to make sure she can give back to others. Her philosophy is the more you can help people, the better. Hagir recently collected donations for other newly arriving refugees and plans to volunteer at Exodus. She wants to give back and help people like her in the United States. She has also continued her advocacy for change in Sudan.
Hagir also plans to go back to school to pursue complete her degree and keep building on her plan to help vulnerable populations, now in her new home in Indiana. Hagir is very thankful to her husband and her family for always supporting her decisions and her work, and to Exodus and community members who supported her, and continue to support people like her in their journeys.