A Refugee’s Faith in the United States

I rode with Hassan (not real name) who, as we were talking, mentioned he came to the United States long ago as a refugee resettled to the United States. In my experience, resettled refugees are often the most patriotic Americans you will ever meet.  During turbulent political times, I found his faith in the country reassuring.  It reminds us that the United States was and remains a nation of migrants and refugees.

Bryan:  How is your Sunday going? It’s not bad driving without the traffic, is it?

Hassan:  The weekend is the best time to drive.  It’s calmer.  I’ve only been driving for a few months but I only do it on the weekends – just for some extra money.  I have three boys and driving helps me take care of them.  One is in college and two are in high school.  My wife is educated but I never had a chance.  I have emphasized to them the importance of receiving an education and I want to help them get it.

Bryan:  You’re a good father to them.

Hassan:  I do my best.  I’m Ethiopian, I’m Muslim, and people of my generation had a very hard time.  So many of us were killed, so many of us detained, those who could scattered all over the world.  Myself, they kept me in a prison for eleven years.  I try to explain that to my children but they don’t understand.  They say “Baba – why were you in prison? Were you a criminal?”.  My kids don’t know anything about Africa.  I never even taught them my language – why would they need it? They are American.  They don’t understand that governments can detain and kill people because of your politics, your religion, your ethnicity….

Bryan:  They kept you in prison for eleven years? I’m really sorry. What happened after?

Hassan:  After, I went to Mogadishu.  It was a different time back then.  From there, I was brought to the United States by UNHCR.

Bryan:  You were resettled as a refugee?

Hassan:  Yes.  I am a Muslim and I do my best to pray five times a day.  And every time I give thanks to the United States for taking me in, for allowing me to work, for letting my family and I live in peace.  I love this country.  My life was so hard but here I have a life.  I work, take care of my family, and I live.  It’s a beautiful country.

Bryan:  What do you think of the current political situation?

Hassan: I’ve been through worse!  America is going to get through this.

Bryan:  We need more people like you and less people like (politicians).

Hassan: It’s been good talking to you.  Thanks for listening to my history.

Bryan:  And it’s been good talking to you.  Thanks for sharing it with me and also for your optimism.   We all need some more of that right now.

Hassan: Hang in there.  We will come through this together.

Bryan:  That’s my stop. Thanks, Hassan!