Prepared and Confident

“The culture in the U.S. is very different from what I was used to in Eritrea.”

I am a refugee. I come from Eritrea, a small country in east Africa. When I came to the United States, I knew only a little English. It was very difficult for me to communicate with others. It was difficult to find any other friends from Eritrea. For a while I was alone in a country where I knew no one and no one spoke my language. Without English and with no friends in the U.S., I couldn’t find a job. I wanted to learn English and support myself. My case manager at the Asian Association suggested I try the work training program at the LDS Humanitarian Center. I got a referral and was able to begin working and to start the on-site English classes.

At first work was very difficult. The culture in the U.S. is very different from what I was used to in Eritrea. I would fall asleep in class because in Eritrea we have what is called first sleep, which is at night, and second sleep, which is in the afternoon. My job coach helped me learn a new sleep schedule so I could stay awake in class. It was also difficult to understand the directions my supervisors gave me, and I would get frustrated. I didn’t know how to ask what was expected. In my development discussions I set goals that would help me be successful.

Even though I was making progress on my goals, I was still worried about getting a job after completing the work training program. I have limited use of my right arm and hand. In Eritrea this meant that I could not work. I thought it was great that the LDS Humanitarian Center would let me work, but I thought that no one else would hire me. Every time my development counselor and job coach asked me what kind of job I wanted when I finished the program, I was scared about what would happen next. Then, in one of our meetings, I cried when I told them my fears and feelings about not being able to provide for myself and not having the confidence to find a job because of my disability. My team told me that in America this was not a big deal, and they began to tell me about the many jobs I could do. That was when I decided I would like to work in retail, because I love people and I am very friendly.

I began working with a Church-service missionary to learn about cashiering, customer service, and retail sales. With her help, I began to gain confidence in my abilities. I was then sent to a Deseret Industries store where I did some job shadowing to learn more about retail work. After that experience, I felt confident about getting a job.

With the help of the staff and missionaries at the LDS Humanitarian Center, I began searching for a new job. I got a job in retail! Now I will support myself and have a successful life in America! I am grateful for the opportunity to work. I love working so much! I love being on my own and paying my own bills with no help!

“Now I will support myself and have a successful life in America!”

For more amazing stories like Major’s, visit the DI’s Facebook page by clicking here.