For refugees, moving to the United States comes with a lot of obstacles. But, the struggles to adjust cannot all be solved in an ESL class. Haji Adan experienced hurdles after fleeing the Somali Civil War and seeking asylum in the United States in 2006.
“That’s what happened,” Adan explained. “We left the beautiful our beautiful village. You know, I still remember when I was a young boy going to the farm with no stress.”
Adan is the Executive Director of Rise, a non-profit organization that promotes self-sufficiency through employment and educational programs as well as after-school initiatives for refugees in Onondaga County.
One of their initiatives is an Individual Development Account program where refugees learn to save money for big-ticket items like cars, houses, college tuition, or even to start a business.
A story Adan highlighted was a woman who had to constantly ask her father with uncontrollable diabetes to drive her to work because she couldn’t.
“When I got the car through the IDA program, my father was relieved and we were able to start focusing on only how to better my father’s help,” the woman wrote in her testimonial after the program.
The largest population of their clients are from Somalia, like, Mzigwa Osman.
“Here in Syracuse, the biggest support was here at Rise because if you want to set up appointments, if you want to go to a doctor’s appointment or employment, you can get it here,” Osman said.
Yet, the programs are not limited to families from Somalia. Each year, Rise helps over 400 families annually from around the world.
“Rise became Rise just because we knew that even if we don’t speak the same language and the same culture, there is one language that we all share,” Adan said. “You left your country, and now we have an issue. That’s the language we all speak.”
According to Hadan, Syracuse is the third largest sanctuary for refugees because of the support system.
“And then we came here, and that’s why we came here. We needed help,” Osman explained.