The Growing Challenges of Being a Refugee in America

Navigating life with refugee status requires courage, strength, and resiliency. Having no choice but to restart your life in a new and unfamiliar country has never been a small task. I came to the United States as a refugee from Bhutan over a decade ago. I now work as a case manager, helping refugees who were in my position. In my journey to find employment in America, language was the largest barrier that I faced. While I had some knowledge of English and a limited education, this was still so hard.

The pandemic brought further complications for newly arrived refugees, with one of the most prominent examples being the temporary shut down of public transportation. Many companies have laid off so many workers this year. The loss of a job has a ripple effect on the household starting with the loss of income. Then individuals are forced to stay home with nothing to do, which can create fragments within families as challenges keep growing. As people are spending more time at home, we are seeing a rise in their electricity and gas bills. Without an income, this expense can quickly drain the family’s budget. For refugees that arrived in March 2020, they have never got the opportunity to experience life outside of their apartment.

Women are disproportionately impacted by the challenges of staying home. Many spend most of their lives taking care of their family and household. In a new country where they don’t have any established connections, this can become their whole lives. This can create numerous mental health issues, and resources that could mitigate these problems are not easily accessible. New Americans are faced with unique challenges which have only been exacerbated by the events of 2020. While there have been countless complications, I am proud to stand with refugees and connect them with the tools that enable their success in America. 2020 demanded the best out of every one of us, and I would like to uplift the promising future in front of us. As I spent my first years in America working for low wages, I never thought I would be in this gratifying position where I can help others adjust to their new life in America. To all the refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, and anyone else seeking a better life, do not be stressed and remember you will not have the same life after a couple years. Walk on your own trail, and you will get here.

This story is part of a Refugee Communities collection.