Linda Kana

State: Kentucky Country of origin: Congo Arrival in the U.S.: 2014 Linda Kana is the Refugee Congress Delegate for Kentucky. She is a resettled refugee from Congo and fondly recalls a warm welcome when she and her family arrived in Kentucky, including a fridge full of food, assistance with medical appointments and opportunities to learn English. Five months after arriving, she knew she […]

Julia Ostropolsky

State: Missouri City of Residence: St. Louis Country of origin: Soviet Union Arrival in the U.S.: 1988 JULIA OSTROPOLSKY, MSW, LCSW arrived in the U.S. with her parents as a stateless refugee near the end of the Soviet era. Growing up, she witnessed the struggles of her family and the Russian-speaking community to adapt to and understand their new lives in America. […]

Suraj Budathoki

State: New Hampshire City of Residence: Manchester, New Hampshire Country of origin: Bhutan Arrival in the U.S.: 2009 Suraj Budathoki is the Interim Executive Director in the Building Community in New Hampshire, BCNH, formerly Bhutanese Community of New Hampshire. Mr. Budathoki who has a broad understanding of Refugees, Immigrants, and New Americans in New Hampshire and beyond is a founding member of BCNH […]

Dauda Sesay 

State:  Louisiana Country of Origin:  Sierra Leone Arrival in the U.S.:  2009 Dauda Sesay is the Refugee Congress Delegate from Louisiana. Sesay 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 a refugee camp […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Esmail Dezhbod

State: Connecticut City of Residence: Naugatuck, Connecticut Country of origin: Iran Arrival in the U.S.: 2000 Mr. Esmail Dezhbod fled religious persecution in Iran and was resettled to Connecticut with his wife and three young children in 2000. When the Iranian Revolution began, the university he was attending was shut down and the leaders of his place of worship, St. […]

Joseph Sackor

State: Pennsylvania City of Residence: Levittown, Pennsylvania Country of origin: Liberia Arrival in the U.S.: 1999 Mr. Joseph Sackor was two months away from graduating college when war broke out in Liberia and he and his family were forced to flee to neighboring Guinea. Before being resettled, Mr. Sackor served as the president of Liberia Refugee Students organization in Guinea, […]

Norah Bagirinka

State: Ohio Country of origin: Rwanda Arrival in the U.S.: 2005 Norah Bagirinka is the Refugee Congress Delegate in Ohio. She is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and was resettled to the United States in 2005. In Rwanda, she directed a program with the International Rescue Committee that aided female victims of violence. Now in the United States, Bagirinka […]

Kamal Dhimal

State: North Carolina City of Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina Country of origin: Bhutan Arrival in the U.S.: 2010 Mr. Kamal Dhimal is a Bhutanese refugee who was forced to flee persecution in Bhutan at the age of six after his father was imprisoned and killed. He and his family lived in a refugee camp in Nepal for twenty years before […]

Zeljka Krvavica

State: Iowa Country of Origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina Arrival in the U.S.: 1993 Zeljka Krvavica is the Refugee Congress Delegate from Iowa. She is refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina who was resettled to the United States in 1993. She works as a Refugee Specialist with the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services. In addition to her professional work with refugees, Krvavica […]

Valdir Solera

State: Hawaii City of Residence: Wailiku, Hawaii Country of origin: Brazil Arrival in the U.S.: 2013 Mr. Valdir Solera came to the United States from Brazil in 2013. He now lives in Wailiku, Hawaii where he works as a tourist guide and environmentalist. He volunteers every week to protect the endangered green Honu turtles at Ho’okipa Beach and educate tourists […]

Kalisa Ndikumwimana

State: North Dakota City of Residence: Fargo, North Dakota Country of origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo Arrival in the U.S.: 2011 Kalisa Ndikumwimana is the Refugee Congress Delegate for North Dakota. He is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who was resettled in Fargo, North Dakota, in 2011. He lives and works in Fargo as a […]