Ehlam Abdalla grew up as a child of farmers in rural Sudan. She remembers her early life as happy but, when she was still a young child, violence from the Second Sudanese Civil War hit their village. Many families were dispersed. “We spent years moving from safe area to safe area,” she said. Eventually, they fled to Jordan. In November 2016, after three years in a refugee camp, Abdalla learned she was being resettled in the United States. She was 30 by then, married with a family of her own. “I didn’t know what to expect in America,” she said. “But I knew it would be a safe place to provide a better future for my children.”
When they landed in Kansas, a case manager from the International Rescue Committee met them at the airport and took them to a hotel. Over the next several weeks, they helped Abdalla and her family secure housing, medical care and social security cards. Later, Catholic Charities stepped in to connect Abdalla to the Kansas Works Office, a local workforce development organization that partners with various state agencies. Through KWO, Abdalla found a job at Walmart and her husband found employment at the Tyson meatpacking plant.
Today, after a lifetime of instability, Garden City has given the family the safety and stability she only dreamed of having during the Sudanese Civil War. “Garden City is a small town,” says Abdalla, who just welcomed her fourth child. “It’s very safe here and the people are very nice. Especially the people working for Catholic Charities. I never imagined that there would be as nice people as those. They helped me with everything.”
And now, in return, Abdalla is helping the community that helped her. Her role at Walmart is in the pharmacy department, stocking over-the-counter medications to ensure the health of her neighbors. “It’s a very good place to work,” she says.
I hope one day other refugees abroad will have the opportunity to come live here safely too.