Nejra Sumic

Refugee Congress Delegate to Arizona Former Refugee from Bosnia and Herzegovina “Surviving through adversity reminds us of our own strength.” – Nejra Sumic Nejra Sumic is a former refugee who was forced to flee from her home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a long and dangerous journey, Sumic and her family were finally granted asylum as refugees into the […]

Heval Kelli

State: Georgia Arrival in the U.S.: 2001 Dr. Heval Kelli is the Refugee Congress Delegate for Georgia. A Syrian Kurdish-born physician, Kelli moved to the United States as refugee two weeks after 9/11 and enrolled at Georgia State 10 months later as a freshman. He graduated Summa Cum Laude while working as a dishwasher and was later accepted to Morehouse School of Medicine, where […]

Tecle Gebremicheal

State: Idaho Country of Origin: Ethiopia Arrival in the U.S.: 2012 Tecle Gebremicheal is the Refugee Congress Delegate for Idaho. Only seven years ago, he came to the U.S. as a resettled refugee from Ethiopia with nothing but a few pairs of shoes — one for running and the other soccer cleats — and an empty pocket, with the full […]

Nga Vương-Sandoval

State: ColoradoCountry of Origin: Việt Nam Nga Vương-Sandoval is the Refugee Congress Delegate for Colorado.  She and her family fled their homeland due to the Việt Nam War and became refugees. They were displaced in refugee camps before resettling in the U.S. and were known as the ‘boat people.’ As a Việtnamese refugee, she embraces her heritage and refugee experience and is empathetic […]

Carmen Kcomt

State: California Country of origin: Peru Arrival in the U.S.: 2003 Carmen Kcomt is the Refugee Congress Delegate for California. She is a former asylum-seeker and is an attorney, member of the American Bar Association and former Magistrate from Peru. She served in the Judicial Power for 10 years as a Family and Juvenile Judge. Kcomt holds a master’s degree in International Law […]

Lynda Kana

State: Kentucky Country of origin: Congo Arrival in the U.S.: 2014 Lynda 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 […]

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 […]