The wind is powerful. It carries the coloured leaves of fall to our doorsteps — leaves that bear the first creases of winter on the edges. The wind additionally brings us damaged folks from lands distant, lands torn by spiritual fundamentalism and wars.
These are folks touched by the icy fingertips of battle that cull the life out of its personal folks. However needs are unusual longings that maintain life — the want for survival, for security, and the want to additional life.
It’s one such want that led a younger Afghan to trip the winds of change. Navid Hamidi, the govt director of Afghan Well being Initiative, selected to fly away from the shifting regimes and political uncertainties of Afghanistan to the shores of liberation in 2014. Having labored in numerous branches of the U.S. army in Afghanistan for seven years, Navid utilized for an SIV (Particular Immigrant Visa) in 2012. The visa ensured his passage to the United States in 2014.
It was the onset of winter in Seattle, and the gray desolation of the skies outdoors the airport have been very completely different from Navid’s conception of Washington. The state had appeared greener and extra cheerful in his net searches again in Afghanistan. However right here, on his first day, stood a brand new residence that mimicked the gray confusions of his thoughts. A contemporary starting might be very disconcerting, and Navid’s was no much less — from navigating a brand new tradition to the intricacies of day by day life.
On his first night time, a Vietnamese gentleman from the IRC (Worldwide Rescue Committee) picked him up from the airport, and dropped him off close to Navid’s brother’s condominium in Kent. His brother had relocated to the U.S. a month earlier than him and had moved right into a one-bedroom condominium. Navid was to sleep in his front room for the subsequent three months, whereas his case was being processed by the resettlement company. Asylum seekers like Navid rise up to 90 days of monetary help from the authorities. It’s throughout this era that case employees, representing resettlement companies, assist new arrivals discover housing, employment and different varieties of help.
Throughout the first three months in the U.S., Navid was assigned a case employee who was to assist him discover employment inside the 90-day interval. Whereas the intention to discover him employment was noble, Navid discovered this expertise harrowing.
In our interview, Navid said, “the case employee was simply giving me choices that basically scared me… like hey, you need to go to Alaska and work in a fishing boat for six months? Getting me a job was the first precedence for him in order that they might shut my case and transfer on to the others.” Following the provide to be part of a fishing boat, Navid discovered himself being provided a minimum-wage job at a farm in Kent with an hourly wage of $9 to $10. These alternatives distressed him, owing to his disinterest in farming or fishery. He wished to work in an workplace or go to school as a result of he believed his familiarity with computer systems and the English language, throughout his military-service years in Afghanistan, had ready him for greater than guide labor. Nonetheless, his case employee had a special concern, as Navid recounted: “He was telling me that it’s not for you. You’re an immigrant, you’re right here. You want to ensure you can afford dwelling someplace. How lengthy would you like to keep along with your brother, how will you pay in your meals?”
Regardless of the practicality of the case employee’s considerations, Navid wished to fulfill his function of discovering a greater life in the U.S. by pursuing a school diploma.
Whereas talking to Navid, and later to a DSHS member, about the resettlement course of, I noticed how this conflict of the case employee’s worldview and that of Navid’s introduced the traditional conundrum between the pragmatism of case numbers and the imprecise actuality of human aspirations.
On the one hand, there are an enormous quantity of circumstances that resettlement companies have to attend to inside a stipulated time interval. On the different hand, we’ve got asylum seekers like Navid who really feel pressured into discovering jobs that don’t resonate with their pursuits. Resettlement companies put in laudable efforts into discovering housing and employment, amongst many different companies, for brand spanking new arrivals. Nonetheless, as Navid famous, it’s also essential to ask if the system of resettling folks wants revision in the wake of a brand new era of asylum seekers.
In Navid’s phrases: “The system is constructed for generations 40 years in the past. This era has desires, is tech-savvy. Resettlement companies can not apply the similar ideas of the outdated mannequin, the place the focus is principally to assist refugees get a job… this might destroy any person’s future as a result of if folks gave these refugees the choice of instructional empowerment…like hey…this nation offers you not solely paychecks, however there’s extra, that may be useful because it’d open many doorways.”
In line with his aspirations, Navid determined to refuse the employment alternatives provided by the resettlement system. He wished to understand his desires of training, and opted for a visit to Inexperienced River School together with his case employee. This opened up the doorways to a special life for him, as he later went on to research public well being at the College of Washington and set up his personal non-profit group.
In the present day, Navid takes a leaf out of his personal life to train younger Afghan arrivals the significance of training. He believes that the youth want function fashions to encourage them, and their households want to be told of doable instructional pathways for his or her children.
Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray serves as College of English at Highline School. Her analysis pursuits embody postcolonial research, spatial literary research, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to educating in the U.S., she labored as an editor with Routledge and taught English at faculties in India.