“Like Earth and Sky”
These were the words that came to mind when Abbas tried to compare his first job in the US to his previous job as an interpreter for the US Army in Afghanistan. Abbas arrived in the US just months ago as part of the United States SIV program, granting refugee rights to individuals who’ve worked with the U.S. government and military in Afghanistan.
“My previous job put me at risk… [now] I feel safe.” While the contrast between his new and former employment are just one example of the many changes facing people experiencing resettlement in a new country, Abbas has found stability and community in his new job.
Abbas works as a Driver Helper for Quality Custom Distribution Services, delivering supplies to Starbucks locations throughout King County. He prides himself on having memorized the specifications of each box in the truck, enabling him to load and unload as efficiently as possible. It’s no wonder why drivers at QCD request Abbas to be their ride along helper.
Abbas is quickly adopting one of Seattle’s greatest icons, Starbucks Coffee, as his own. His hard work has earned him the respect of baristas throughout the city, and is occasionally rewarded with a drink of his choice. “Venti vanilla bean Frappuccino!”
Abbas has enjoyed the opportunity his job has provided to become familiarized with the city, improve his English through interaction with coworkers, and most importantly, get settled in his new life in America. “I don’t want to go anywhere else,” he says.
Abbas’ new job did not come without challenges. The bus schedule did not align with his graveyard shift, requiring that he wait more than 2 hours after finishing work for the bus to arrive. Abbas stuck it out, and fortunately World Relief was able to donate a car to Abbas and his family to ease his commute. His exceptional work ethic and success as a team player has paved the way for further job placements for refugees at QCD after him.
For Abbas, the difference between his former life and newfound community in the US can best be described as, “like Earth and sky.” While there are certain challenges awaiting all newcomers to the US, Abbas advises, “Don’t quit. Keep going. Be patient with the job.” Stability and hope are sure to come.
If you are interested in learning more about how you, your family or your church can come alongside refugees, we have a seminar series happening in Seattle at University Presbyterian Church June 3rd, 10th, and 17th.