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!