Finding My Path to Self-Reliance
I came to the United States from Afghanistan with the promise of a new and wonderful life. The promise turned into a four year struggle, filled with disappointment. Being a hard worker and an honest person, I desperately wanted to be able to take care of myself and my little daughter. I found kind people at the LDS Humanitarian Center who were willing to help us find our path to personal freedom and self-reliance.
I have always been a hard worker, even as a child in Afghanistan. There were ten in my family, and after graduating from school in Pakistan, I was responsible for tending my younger brothers and sisters. I would help them with their studies and tried to encourage them to finish their educations so they would have a good life. Our father was a good man, but he was unable to speak and had only been through the fifth grade. I would help him by interpreting his sign language for others. As I grew older, I found ways to use my talents to help others by serving as a volunteer and an employee for an agency that helps poor children. I did filing, computer work, shopping for supplies, and translating and counseling with teachers. At one time, the ministry of finance requested my help as an accountant, which I did part-time. In our culture, women usually do not work outside of the home, nor do they drive cars. My fiancée, therefore, requested that I stay home. When we married, however, I found a way to continue my service from home—I put a sign on my door advertising English lessons. There were many poor people living near my home who wanted to learn how to read and write English, so before long I had 20 students.
Shortly after our marriage, my husband’s family sponsored our immigration to Utah. My husband arrived first, and then after waiting for the proper papers and visas, my little baby daughter and I arrived. I was very happy and had great hopes for our future. We stayed with my in-laws, but by that time, my husband had started a new life without us. It was a very difficult and lonely four years as we waited for his heart to change. His family wanted us to be together, but he did not. I found there were too many lies and too few promises kept. I was so sad. Sometimes you have to cry a little. If I start crying, my little daughter knows and she starts crying too. One day my little daughter said, “Mommy, we need to get our own house.”
God was with me and God helped me. I was referred to a bishop from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I asked him to please help me and told him my story. He referred me to the LDS Humanitarian Center.
The good people at the LDS Humanitarian Center helped me so much. I spent four hours every day in intense English studies, and then I worked for four hours putting together kits for humanitarian relief and for school children in poor countries. Everyone has been so kind to me. My supervisor helped me so much—I love her. Even though she has since left for a new job, she keeps in touch with me and continues to help.
Step-by-step we put together a plan over the past year that has made my independence possible. English classes improved my English three grade levels. A citizenship class helped me to obtain my United States citizenship. I had help in getting a driver’s permit and am working towards obtaining a license. I am learning new computer skills as I move towards finding full-time employment. And now, I have had help to find an apartment of my own to make a home for myself and my little daughter.
This journey has not been easy. It has required a lot of hard work to rise above the challenges I was forced to overcome. There were times when I thought I could not go another day, then my little daughter would say, “I love you Mommy.” I know that God was with me and God helped me.
Originally posted on Deseret Industries