A New Impression of America
Iraqi Refugee Finds Warm Welcome in Sacramento


“I had a job, but couldn’t work,” Mohammed said of his life in Iraq. “I needed to take care of my family.” Two years ago Mohammed fled Iraq, escaping a violent war and dangerous living conditions. Mohammed applied for refugee status, then he and his family waited a year and a half before receiving approval. Looking back on the process that began in 2008, Mohammed spoke of the uncertainty he felt during his transition. Due to a lack of English language skills, Mohammed was nervous about arriving in a new country. “We learned a little English in Iraq, but didn’t use it. We didn’t need to.”

Upon arriving to Northern California, Mohammed’s impression of America was reshaped. Astonished at the overwhelming support his family received from their new community, he began to settle into his new home. With the assistance of Opening Doors and an extremely involved sponsor, Mohammed’s family was provided with short-term housing, access to health services, and temporary cash aid.


In Sacramento, Mohammed and his family enrolled in ESL courses. Consequentially, he got a job as a salesman where he continues to improve his English. “I learned English in class, and even more on the job.” With his English fluency improving on a daily basis, Mohammed hopes to find a better job in the coming months and continue to provide for his family. He proudly discusses his wife’s active involvement in her ESL courses and her plans to enroll at American River College, as well as his children’s achievements in elementary school.


March 2010