Louisiana:: Dauda Sesay 

Louisiana:: Dauda Sesay 

State:  Louisiana

City of Residence:  Baton Rouge

Country of Origin:  Sierra Leone

Arrival in the U.S.:  2009

Dauda fled Sierra Leone due to the brutal war that led to the murder of his father and younger sister. While he was fleeing the military and the rebels, he was shot and seriously injured.  In the refugee camp in the Gambia, he worked with other refugees to advocate for better living conditions in the camp and education for the children. When his injury required further surgery, he moved to the capital, …

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Utah:: Fatima Dirie

Utah:: Fatima Dirie

State: Utah

City of Residence: Salt Lake City

Country of origin: Somalia

Arrival in the US: 1997

Fatima Dirie is the Refugee Community Liasion for the Salt Lake City Mayor’s office. Fatima was born in Somalia, and lived in Kenya for several years before coming to the United States. She moved to Utah with her family in 1997 and has lived here since. Fatima Speaks 5 Languages. Somali, Mai, Mai, Chimini, Swahili, and English. Fatima graduated from the University of Utah with a master’s degree in social work and …

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District of Columbia:: Jessi Calzado-Esponda

District of Columbia:: Jessi Calzado-Esponda

State: District of Columbia

City of Residence: Washington

Country of origin: Cuba

Arrival in the US: 1999

Jessi Calzado-Esponda has lived an extraordinary life. At the tender age of 7, and at no fault of her own, she became a political refugee after being placed in a raft that was headed to America. In the blink of an eye, Jessi lost all contact with her immediate family (mom, dad, brother) and her beloved Cuba; and yet despite many difficulties she rose! As a child, she lived in several shelter …

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District of Columbia: Jessi Calzado-Esponda

District of Columbia: Jessi Calzado-Esponda

State: District of Columbia

City of Residence: Washington

Country of origin: Cuba

Arrival in the US: 1999

Jessi Calzado-Esponda has lived an extraordinary life. At the tender age of 7, and at no fault of her own, she became a political refugee after being placed in a raft that was headed to America. In the blink of an eye, Jessi lost all contact with her immediate family (mom, dad, brother) and her beloved Cuba; and yet despite many difficulties she rose! As a child, she lived in several shelter …

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Texas: Alexis Niyonkuru

Texas: Alexis Niyonkuru

State: Texas

City of Residence: Houston, Texas

Country of origin: Burundi

Arrival in the U.S.: 2007

Mr. Alexis Niyonkuru is a refugee from Burundi who was resettled to Houston, Texas in 2007. Shortly after his arrival to the U.S., Mr. Niyonkuru decided to join the Gary Job Corps Center, and within a couple years he received his High School Diploma, PCA Certificate, and a Certification in Transportation and Business Communications International Union. Because of the difficult situation he faced as a refugee, Mr. Niyonkuru and his friends decided to …

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Mukhtar Ahmed

State: Kentucky

City of Residence: Louisville, Kentucky

Country of origin: Somalia

Arrival in the U.S.: 2009

Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed is a Somali refugee who was reunited with his family in Louisville, Kentucky in 2009. After being displaced many times and becoming separated from his family, Mr. Ahmed fled to Kenya with friends, where he spent four years without knowing where his family was or whether they survived. Then in early 2007, Mr. Ahmed received a phone call and heard the words: “Hello, I’m your mother. I’m calling from the …

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Florida: Basma Alawee

Florida: Basma Alawee

State: Florida

City of Residence: Atlantic Beach, Florida

Country of origin: Iraq

Arrival in the U.S.: 2010

Ms. Basma Alawee her husband were forced to flee Iraq when her family was targeted due to her husband’s employment by an American company. Ms. Alawee now lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband and two daughters. Although she was a material engineer in Iraq, Ms. Alawee struggled to get credential recognition in the United States. Instead she obtained a teaching certificate and now teaches math and science at a middle …

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Thon Moses Chol

Thon Moses Chol

State: D.C.

City of Residence: Washington, D.C.

Country of origin: Sudan

Arrival in the U.S.: 2000

Reverent Thon Moses Chol was only four years old when the war in Sudan forced him to flee his village as a “Lost Boy” and fend for himself before being resettled as an unaccompanied minor. Mr. Chol was resettled to the United States in 2000 and now lives in Washington, DC where he works as a Vocational Specialist for the Washington, D.C. government. He is also an ordained Episcopal Pastor at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in …

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Jean-Claude Mauridi

Jean-Claude Mauridi

State: Texas

City of Residence: Fort Worth, Texas

Country of origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Arrival in the U.S.: 1999

Mr. Jean-Claude Mauridi was 16 years old when war broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He fled his country in order to avoid recruitment by the rebels, and spent the next ten years in a refugee camp in Zimbabwe. He currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife, son, and two daughters where he works as an Employment Case Manager at a refugee services …

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Hari Niroula

Hari Niroula

State: Ohio

City of Residence: Blacklick, Ohio

Country of origin: Bhutan

Arrival in the U.S.: 2008

Mr. Hari Niroula is a refugee from Bhutan who came to the United States in 2008. He currently lives in Blacklick, Ohio with his wife and daughter, where he works as a language interpreter and community advocate. Mr. Niroula has worked with several community organizations, assisting refugees as they take their issues to the state legislature and state refugee coordinator. He holds a Master’s Degree in Social Science, and he is most proud …

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Hadidja Nyiransekuye

Hadidja Nyiransekuye

State: Texas

City of Residence: Denton, Texas

Country of origin: Rwanda

Arrival in the U.S.: 2000

Ms. Hadidja Nyiransekuye is a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. She was sponsored to come to the United States in 1998 based on her teaching experience and education background, as well as her extensive language skills, which include English, French, Swahili and Kinyarwanda. She and her four children were granted asylum in 2000. Ms. Nyiransekuye obtained her M.S.W. and her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Denver. She currently lives …

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Eugenie Mukeshimana

Eugenie Mukeshimana

State: Maryland

City of Residence: Baltimore, Maryland

Country of origin: Rwanda

Arrival in the U.S.: 2001

Ms. Eugenie Mukeshimana is a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide. After struggling with this traumatic experience for nearly eight years, she and her daughter finally left in 2001 for the United States and were granted asylum. She currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland and has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. In 2010, Ms. Mukeshimana founded Genocide Survivors Support Network (GSSN), a New Jersey-based charitable organization that helps genocide survivors rebuild their lives. Since …

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Alabama: Tuan Do

Alabama: Tuan Do

State: Alabama

City of Residence: Mobile, Alabama

Country of origin: Vietnam

Arrival in the U.S.: 1993

Mr. Tuan Do is a Vietnamese refugee who came to the United States in 1993. He currently resides in Mobile, Alabama with his wife and daughter. He works as a program coordinator at Boat People SOS, assisting the Vietnamese population affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mr. Do is involved in several other community programs including the Southern State Human Trafficking Task Force, which assists trafficking victims in the Mobile County …

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California: Jacque Larrainzar

State: Washington

Country of origin: Mexico

Arrival in the U.S.: 1997

Ms. Jacque Larrainzar came to the United States from Mexico in 1997, and was the first Mexican lesbian to win political asylum in the United States on the basis of her sexual orientation. Ms. Larrainzar currently lives in Seattle, Washington and works as an Immigrant and Refugee Outreach Specialist for Seattle Counseling Service. She leads the LGBTQ Immigrant Refugee and Undocumented Outreach Project (IRUO), which is a research project designed to uncover the barriers faced by …

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Ghana Dulal

Ghana Dulal

State: Utah

City of Residence: Salt Lake City, Utah

Country of origin: Bhutan

Arrival in the U.S.: 2008

Mr. Gyanu Dulal was a 20-year-old college student when he was forced to flee Bhutan in 1991. He spent the next 18 years living and working as a teacher in a refugee camp in Nepal. In 2008, Mr. Dulal was resettled to Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and two children. He now works as a Community Resource Specialist at the Department of Workforce Services, Refugee Services Office. He is …

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