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Local refugee is providing help to other refugees in Tulsa

Posted at 5:32 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 07:56:19-04

TULSA, Okla. — Catholic Charities announced this week 800 Afghan refugees will be coming to Tulsa in the coming weeks.

The YWCA is among several organizations in the Tulsa area that works closely with refugees.

“Typically what our role is, is to provide ongoing support after families have arrived in Tulsa, including helping finding first employment, English classes, legal services...interpretation and translation services,” Diane Eason Contreras, YWCA director of immigrant and refugee services said.

Huda Abdulhameed first started working directly with refugees as a YWCA refugee caseworker.

She helped them find employment and connected them to social and health services.

It was something she could directly relate to.

“My family used to work as a contractor with the U.S. military back in my country so they got threatened from militia from 2007 so they applied as a refugee,” Abdulhameed said.

Abdulhameed and her three daughters are Iraqi refugees. They arrived in the United States in 2014. She said leaving the only life she knew was not easy.

“I cried several years, if I’m doing the right thing, the wrong thing, I was struggling to find myself, to find my identity,” Abdulhameed said.

When she first arrived in the U.S., Abdulhameed thought she could start working right away, but was faced with another challenge.

“Second Challenge was the language barrier,” she said.

Although she has a masters of nursing degree from her country of origin, she could not practice her profession because she needed to learn English, which she managed to do in five months.

Now, she's the interpretation and translation services program manager for the YWCA and helps connect refugees with interpretation services.

“The day I moved here I could tell it was a very different state and everybody was friendly with me and with my girls,” she said.

Her organization is preparing to provide resources to the 800 Afghan refugees coming to Tulsa.

She said she's hoping to offer them the warm welcome she once received.

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