May 17, 2017

individuals with disabilities man and woman smiling by computer

At just 20 years old, Iftu Hassen traveled alone from her home in Ethiopia to Minneapolis to start a new life in the United States. She was both excited for the many possibilities America held for her, but sad to leave her mother behind.

Iftu’s father had settled in the U.S. a few years ago with his second family and filed family reunification papers so Iftu could join him, her stepmother, and seven half-siblings. The process took about two years and Iftu arrived in Minnesota in December 2016.

Through Arrive Ministries, Iftu can receive up to six months of Refugee Cash Assistance financial support, but is required to find a job in that timeframe. Arrive Ministries is an outreach of Transform Minnesota as well as an affiliate office of World Relief which provides comprehensive resettlement services and compassionate care for displaced refugees and immigrants coming to Minnesota.

Iftu was referred to Rise for employment assistance. Placement Specialist Mohamed Daher, himself a refugee who immigrated to the U.S. in January 2013 from East Africa, assisted Iftu in her initial job search. He helped her apply for positions, practice her interviewing skills, and accompanied Iftu to job interviews.

She was excited to be hired part-time at the United Parcel Services (UPS) distribution center in Eagan working an evening shift in March.  Iftu scans and sorts packages before they are loaded onto local delivery trucks.

Iftu said through a translator that she is proud to be helping support her family and hopes to work a full-time schedule soon.

She admits finding a job is not something she could have done on her own and is grateful to Mohamed for his support. Because Iftu doesn’t drive and there were no public bus routes to get her from South Minneapolis to Eagan, Mohamed networked with others there to help get her in a carpool.

Mohamed will continue to follow up with Iftu for three months in her new job to help ensure that things continue to go well for her.

“I am happy to assist Iftu and other refugees who come here find a good job and acclimate to life in the Twin Cities,” said Mohamed. “Afterall, a bundle of belongings isn’t the only thing a refugee brings to this new country…Albert Einsten was refugee!”

Many of the people working at UPS are East African refugees; since Iftu speaks Somali, Oromo, and Amharic, plus some English, she is making many friends at work.

“I am doing my best at work and also help others out,” Iftu said. “I am gaining new skills and they like my work.”

In her free time, Iftu helps take care of her family. She takes English and computer classes at the Minneapolis Adult Education South Campus three hours a day, Monday through Friday.

This article appears in the June 2017 issue of the Rise Reporter.

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