All stories by Kirsten Boele
More than 10,000 refugees have made Tucson their new home, after fleeing the violence and conflict in their countries. Follow the stories of these refugees in their journey to build a new life from scratch in this desert-city.
Nestled in her cozy couch and dressed in comfy boxer shorts and a t-shirt, 27-year-old Lindsay Loebig stares at the dancing bodies from MTV’s music videos. She scoops up cereal swimming in a bowl of milk. Her cats Fiona and Alma are bird watching from the kitchen counter. The fan brings some movement into Loebig’s peaceful morning routine.
But by around 8:30 a.m. the serenity is over.
Loebig steps into her office at Lutheran Refugee Resettlement Services, which is tucked away in a conglomeration of gray concrete. Matter-of-factly she says she received a call from a newly arrived refugee who was laid off. “You have to have no expectations, just roll with the punches,” Loebig explains about job-hunting. [Read more...]
Nur Market’s four cramped isles, on Speedway Boulevard, are lined with products carrying Arabic names – cans of babaganush and humus, bags of curry and falafel spices and boxes of foreign teas and cookies. Ismail Osman, 32, dressed in khakis and a blue polo shirt, helps two women wearing colorful headscarves.
Together with his two brothers, Abdul and Mohamad, he runs Nur Market. Generally, when he gets out from his university classes in optical engineering, he races over to the supermarket to help with the family business. [Read more...]
Emily Insaniç just put the three residents of Rainbow Adult Care Home, on Rainbow Vista Drive, to bed for their afternoon nap. Emily – dressed in scrubs adorned with happy faces and colorful rainbows – and her husband Ali are resting. It is quiet. Only 102-year-old Leona occasionally breaks the silence with a cough.
Emily and Ali were born on the same day in Bosnia 62 years ago. Together with their 33-year-old son Damir, they run an adult care home in Tucson. “We are old. What is our success?” Ali asks. “We did this ourselves, everything.” [Read more...]
Exhaling the smoke from his cigarette, Ahmet Alisah’s few remaining teeth become visible. He is resting from lunch rush and preparing for a busy Sunday dinner shift. The last customers leave his restaurant on North Oracle Road called Chef Alisah. Ahmet quickly rises from his chair and thanks them sincerely. Most are returning customers.
Ahmet lost most of his teeth in a concentration camp in Bosnia. “They said, ‘your name is Ahmet, you are Muslim,’ and the soldiers transported me to the concentration camps,” Ahmet says. [Read more...]
Starting a new life from scratch is expensive, but most refugees arrive in Tucson with next to nothing. With limited funds the first priority for refugees is getting a job as soon as possible.
However, getting a job is easier said than done.
The recession may have officially ended at the start of 2010, but the job market still remains incredibly tight. The unemployment rate in Tucson keeps hovering around the record-high of nine percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Refugees are not only faced with a scarcity of job openings, many of them speak little English and are total strangers to American job market etiquette. [Read more...]
Refugees and residents of Tucson came together on Saturday June 19 as some 1,500 Tucsonans from all walks of life celebrated World Refugee Day in Downtown El Presidio Park.
Visitors enjoyed non-stop multicultural performances, from African drumming to Iraqi poetry, as they sipped Burundian iced coffee and munched on fresh handmade egg rolls. But there was more than live performances and fine food. Many wandered around the international bazaar buying arts and crafts from refugee small business owners or found answers to their questions at the information booths. [Read more...]
When thinking of the services provided by a refugee resettlement agency, yoga lessons do not immediately jump to mind. Then, why is yoga on the list of IRC Tucson’s resettlement services?
While refugees are facing the challenges of starting a new life from scratch in a completely foreign place, many refugees are at the same time coping with traumatizing past experiences.
And this is where yoga fits in the picture. [Read more...]