Tag: Virgina

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 Virginia. In 2011, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) honored him the Spirit of Welcome Award, and he was nominated to the LIRS Board of Directors. Mr. Chol graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2006 and then a Master’s of Social Work in 2008 from Western Michigan University. In 2010, Mr. Chol testified before Congress about the refugee crisis in Sudan. He is most proud of contributing to his community by just being a voice and activist.

Words for US: Safety, liberty and freedom.

State: Virginia

City of Residence: Springfield, Virginia

Country of origin: Iran

Arrival in the U.S.: 2008

Mr. Farjam Behnam was granted asylum in the United States after fleeing Iran in 2008. In Iran Mr. Behnam managed a news website and wrote political bulletins that were widely distributed to embassies, universities, and companies in Iran. The government considered these political reports to be controversial, and Mr. Behnam felt that he was not allowed to write freely about the Iranian government. Because of his work he was invited by Freedom House, a United States-based NGO, to leave Iran and apply for asylum in the United States. He currently lives in Springfield, Virginia and works as an interpreter with Human Rights First, where he helps clients communicate with their attorneys and the courts.

Mr. Behnam is most proud contributing to his community by providing translation and interpretation services. He is honored to be part of the Refugee Congress, and wants to help other refugees and asylees because he understands the challenges faced by those who do not understand the legal system in the United States.

Word for US: Freedom of Expression