To become a mechanic. To start a company trading in precious stones. To serve in the United States military. To become an imam. To manage a hotel. To get a computer science degree. To become a nurse.
When refugees find out that they get to resettle in the United States, they start dreaming—and they dream big. “When I heard that I was going to go to America, I was so, so excited,” Eca said, “because I heard that America is a place where your dreams can become reality.”
To us, that’s what resettlement is all about: helping refugees build their American Dreams.
Eca’s dream was to become a mechanic: to start by working on cars and eventually become certified to work on bigger and more complicated pieces of equipment. He had a good head start when he arrived here in Fayetteville last February: he had picked up a lot of English in his 16 years in a refugee camp in Burundi and he had even gotten his mechanic’s certification.
So when he sat down with Rick, our employment coordinator, to lay out a plan for his new life here, the path forward was pretty clear. Rick explained that he would need to start out in a pretty basic job: something to get him some work experience and an income while he improved his English. Then, as soon as his English was strong enough, he would be ready to apply for mechanic jobs. So that’s what he did: Rick helped him create a resume and taught him how to navigate the US job market, Canopy’s case manager helped him enroll in English classes and his co-sponsor team helped him find a job in housekeeping at Fayetteville hotel.
Within 2 months, Eca was working full-time; his family even stopped receiving state food assistance because they were above the income level. Within 4 months, he had graduated from his English language program and was ready to apply for mechanic jobs. And finally, in his fifth month, he began working as a mechanic for Ozark Regional Transit. Today, 10 months after he first arrived in Northwest Arkansas, he has just been certified as a diesel technician and is working on getting his GED so that he can continue to advance as a mechanic.
Eca’s American Dream is coming true.
Together with our co-sponsors, employers and educators, Canopy is helping 32 other adults take steps toward their American Dreams too. Not everyone’s story is like Eca’s. Some people are still in their first job as they work on their English or work towards getting their drivers’ license or GED. Some are still figuring out what they want for themselves and their families here. But no matter where they’re at, Canopy continues to walk alongside them to offer them resources, advice and encouragement for as long they feel they need it.
This coming year, help us to continue to bring the dreams of our 32 refugee adults to fruition—and help us launch the dreams of those who have yet to come. Give the gift of empowerment this season.