Sudanese refugees find a better tomorrow
Inside a tidy green and white bungalow in Moline, Osama and Nahid Ali sit between their four children on a large leather sectional sofa. It's a Friday night, which means family time. There are snacks and drinks and lighthearted discussions of school and technology and work.
It may resemble a scene taking place in homes across the Quad Cities. But the Ali family doesn't take it for granted. As Sudanese refugees, they left a country ravaged by civil war, violence and famine. Following six years in Egypt, the Ali family arrived in Moline in 2010.
“This has become our home,” Osama says, gesturing to the home they purchased in 2014. “We are lucky.”
"We suffered a lot in Sudan and we suffered more in Egypt," Nahid explains.
"But I'm not suffering from our experiences now," Osama adds. "It's made me stronger."
But while Nahid and Osama may have brought their family across the world to find a home, they also face struggles that many parents face - like keeping their kids safe, providing for their family, and instilling values that will last a lifetime.
Here at now what?, one of our goals is to celebrate and connect caregivers in the Quad Cities. One way we do that is sharing stories of families like the Alis.
Living in peace.
"Our goal was only to live in peace," Osama says of leaving Sudan. "The only way to seek this life was to find protection somewhere else."
When the family found out they would be moving to Moline, they were skeptical. It looked like a tiny dot - just a small village, they thought.
But when they arrived at the local airport and met their case worker from World Relief, they were instantly put at ease. That was the beginning of their new lives in America.
Nahid will always remember the kindness of those who helped them transition to their lives the Quad Cities. “People helped us at every step,” she says.
World Relief Moline works with 200 refugees each year to be resettled in the Quad Cities. World Relief case workers connect with families from the moment the arrive and provide resources for employment, education, housing and citizenship.
Finding a local family.
The Alis are thousands of miles from their Sudanese family, but they have connected with others right in Illinois and Iowa. There are large community events planned for other Sudanese refugees and those they've met through religious activities.
“And World Relief volunteers and staff – they are our family,” Nahid explains.
Osama and Nahid still call family in Sudan, although time differences and schedules can make it a challenge. But the network of family and friends they have built in the Quad Cities helps.
“We were far away from our country and our people," Nahid recalls. "But we had our motives to build a new life – and people gave us the chance.”
Keeping Sudanese values - and adopting new ones, too.
Five years ago, Osama and Nahid spoke little English. But the children were able to fill in some of the gaps. And over time, language became a little less of a barrier.
However, the family always speaks Arabic at home.