Image by Tyler Rutherford

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE IN THE UNITED STATES?

The Rewards of Living Here

CREATING A NEW LIFE AND A FRESH START

• There is no war here

• We are able to live in peace without being called bad names like in Somalia
• It has now become home and feels like it
• Access to jobs and education

Fatuma reflects on whether Pittsburgh feels like home yet. “Yes, and right now, it is my home…”

Fatuma Sharif

"I love living in the U.S.A and I am thankful for how we are treated and live here even though there are many hard things still.”

Fatuma Muya

Better Opportunity & Equality

"For me coming to America, gave my parents and myself a better chance than previous generations before us had to education and food. Overall gave us a better opportunity and equality. Compared to in Somalia everything comes through bribery. Coming to the U.S gave us better lives, access to education, and a better future for those that are willing to work for it. 

 

When I came to the U.S. when I was 13 and I did not know anything. I started school at this age not knowing English or anything. But, having teachers and people to help us learn how to shop, taking us to grocery stores. It was a whole new way of doing everything. These people stayed with us and helped us until we understood the systems. They were very patient with us. The volunteers for the ESL class were there every day to help make sure we weren’t given pork and seemed to have known our culture before we even got here. It came to the point where even my teachers would come home to help me get through school. This was from 3rd grade up to 10th grade. The teachers and volunteers were there until the end even when things got hard. Even when my parents were suspicious of them and worried, they would call child support agencies on them.”

Fatuma Muhina

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The Challenges Of Living Here

ADAPTING TO A NEW CULTURE WHILE RETAINING OUR IDENTITY

• Learning how to run appliances in the U.S. like knowing how to turn off the stove or turn off A/C, learning how to unlock the door with an electric lock, learning how to use EBT card.
• Not being able to find good-paying jobs
• Attitudes and opinions based on stereotypes and prejudices
• Figuring out how to pay bills like rent and utilities with very little support
• Finding jobs so soon after arriving to the U.S
• Heart disease​

“I came to America and was diagnosed with heart disease. I am still alive and thank America for life saving medicine and surgery.”

Hamadi Mahitula

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OVERCOMING PROBLEMS AND CREATING A NEW LIFE

“We had been living in the United States for 2 months. The 3rd month, the refugee office said, 'from now on you are responsible to pay your rent. You have to pay rent, light, electric.' But that’s now how we grew up. In the refugee camp we never had to pay these bills. So we asked, 'where are we going get this money?' And they said, 'we have to find a job' and we said, 'we are ready to work and are hard-working people. Where do we find a job?' They said, we will take you. Okay when? we asked. It’s already the 15th of the month and we won’t get a job until next month. How will pay our rent? But they said, 'that’s just how it is.' Then we said, 'In our interviews before coming here, they said you would help us even if it was 6 months we’ve been living there. Why are you telling this after we’ve only been here 2 months?”

Fatuma Muya