Michelle F. arrived in the United States in June 2015 after fleeing Rwanda, where she had been a journalist working for a government official. After learning that Michelle’s mother’s relatives were affiliated with an opposing party, Michelle’s boss began questioning her father’s loyalty to the ruling party. Since her father refused to denounce his wife or her family publicly, he lost his job, and the government placed him under house arrest.
Resettling from Rwanda
Soon, Michelle experienced discrimination at her place of employment. Her speech and writing increasingly became censored, harassment from management heightened, and she was forced to author inaccurate and false journalism to cover up corruption within the ruling party. As her family’s safety in Rwanda worsened, Michelle was determined to find freedom, to pursue her dreams of becoming a nurse, and to join her sister in the United States.
Michelle began her long journey to the United States with nothing but the hope of a better life. However, when she reached the border between Mexico and the US, she asked for asylum and was arrested immediately. The following few days were a detention nightmare for Michelle and other migrants who were bound and forced to sleep in a small, crowded holding cell. Fortunately, Michelle’s sister used all of her savings—$5,000—to post her bond and schedule a date for her court case. Michelle was surprised that she was “treated like a criminal” during detainment. With the help of Survivors of Torture, Michelle was awarded a lawyer and a work permit, valid until her case wins legitimacy in proving her status in Rwanda and that the persecution she faced is deemed a credible threat.
Michelle and her sister had to start over, but with a newly awarded work permit and an introduction to Nile Sisters’ certified nursing assistant (CNA) vocational training program, Michelle found renewed hope in her new home. She completed the courses and passed the California CNA licensing exam! She is actively seeking employment and looks forward to pursuing her dreams of becoming a nurse.
Michelle still deals with the stress of her pending asylee status, and as anti-immigration and anti-refugee rhetoric increases, she urges her host community “to treat refugees like people and not criminals because we should not all be categorized as terrorists.” Nevertheless, Michelle encourages hope amongst people who also are being persecuted. Don’t “lose hope because, at times, life is difficult, but there are also good times. So believe in yourself, and fight for your rights.”
Financial partners like you help Nile Sisters extend life-changing opportunities to underserved populations.