Written by Lidija, World Relief Seattle Resettlement Program Director.
Two brothers arrived to the U.S. as refugees from Iraq in September of 2013. The World Relief Seattle office placed them in an apartment nearby the office and helped them to adjust to their new life in the US. They were quickly enrolled in ESL and employment services and their caseworker, Luke, helped them to settle down. He visited them in their home, provided assistance with their various appointments, and spent time educating and orienting them to the community.
The brothers told Luke of their mother Ameena and older brother Khalid whom they had left behind in Jordan. Ameena and Khalid’s departure had not yet been scheduled so the brothers were hoping that their family reunion would happen soon.
It just so happened that the very next month, Luke was planning to travel to Amman, Jordan on vacation. The brothers gave him their mother’s address and Luke hoped that he might be able to see her while there.
Upon his arrival to Amman, Luke got the chance to visit with Ameena in her home and bring greetings from her two sons in America. Luke was also introduced to Ameena’s cat Lulu. She called Lulu her “therapeutic” cat and said that the cat would be traveling with her to America.
Lulu was fully processed for her travels to the US and went through full medical check-up, got her vaccinations, and was measured and weighed. Her immigration papers were sent to World Relief’s Seattle office with the cat’s photo affixed to it.
Ameena, Khalid, and Lulu the cat arrived to New York on Oct. 31, 2013. The three refugees (two humans and one feline) spent the next six hours waiting for the cat’s paperwork to be found so they could catch their connecting flight to Seattle. By the time Lulu was cleared through customs, their flight to Seattle was gone! They spent the night in New York and arrived to Seattle the next day, Nov. 1st.
Once they arrived to Seattle, they were received by their new caseworker, Luke, and the family was reunited. Both mother and son said that it was worth the long wait—worth one more night in transit—just to be able to bring their beloved cat Lulu with them. She is like a cherished family member to them, someone you don’t leave behind.
As the saying goes, cats have nine lives. Lulu certainly has started a new one from the time she got to New York City. Such a cute, fluffy creature became a refugee too!
This post is a story/reflection of the author based on personal experience. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of World Relief Seattle.