The city of Boise is a welcoming community made up of a beautifully diverse population. For years, it has served as a safe harbor for refugees, not only as a destination on their long journey to find asylum, but also as a place to call home. The process of resettling in a new country is difficult and involves culture shock, learning a new language, and redefining your entire life.
The stories of the members of our community that have come here as refugees are important and deserve to be voiced. Whether they can tell their story in English, or with the help of a translator, we are here to listen to their stories in their purest forms.
“The level of help was something that we never thought or dreamed of. I can’t say one thing that we are short of - the comfort and the peace of it - and the people of this state make us comfortable, we don’t feel like we want to go anywhere else or move anywhere else. Idaho is home.” - Masooma, Agency for New Americans Client
New Americans resettling into the state of Idaho undergo a tremendous journey before their feet first touch the soil of this beautiful state. A whirlwind of appointments, paperwork, and traveling bring them to a peaceful, but unfamiliar, world, full of many more new challenges to overcome. Idaho’s community is full of networks of partnerships in support of these individuals undergoing extreme periods of transition, and we are grateful to be a part of the resettlement process of new Americans in Idaho.
Eleven women from Agency for New Americans (ANA) graciously took the time to share their experiences resettling into Idaho during ANA’s weekly women’s group meetings. Women’s Group provides attendees opportunities to draw on the strength of other women in an inclusive atmosphere of community building, mutual support, and empowerment. In the spirit of the theme of Idaho Gives 2022, we asked each of the women what Idaho has given them since their arrival, and in turn what they hope to someday give back to Idaho given the opportunity.
Two translators were used throughout the interviews, so the answers below are direct translations of each of the women’s responses. The women interviewed have each been living in Idaho for different lengths of time, some for a couple of months, and some for many years. Each person had a unique experience and perspective to share, with everyone sharing one common theme: gratefulness to be living here in Idaho.
Q: What has Idaho given you since you moved here from your country?
Bahar | “When we came to the agency, they gave us many donations, they found an apartment for us, they gave us stuff for the apartments, kitchen, bedrooms, living rooms, everything they gave us!”
Maryam | “When we came here, they helped us and gave us everything like cash assistance and apartments and they paid for us.”
Anonymous | ““When I first came, I was welcomed. I was given insurance, an ID, and a better life than before.”
Nilofar | "The city has given me peace, just like the city where I lived in Afghanistan did, I feel like I am home already."
Anonymous | “The first time I came to Boise, I was given so many things, I got medication, I got my knee surgery (knee replacement), I applied for housing and it took a long time because I am single, so now I get my low income housing.”
Mariam | “In the beginning, people gave me a lot of safety, honor, respect, and my daughter, she started to make herself and her future, and I am happy for that. This is my life now; this was the third time I had to start from the beginning to build my life and my family.”
Yalda | “The one thing that I am very grateful for is that when I first came here we were new. The benefits we had with finding our way, getting our help with things such as food stamps. We did not feel like we were unable to access anything and we never thought that we were not able to get help if we needed it.”
Hava | “The benefits that Idaho provided for us as refugees, from housing to health benefits to other benefits, I am very grateful.”
Masooma | “As many times as I have been to a doctor, there is no way I could have afforded to go. I am so grateful, I know there is no way that I would be able to pay that back. I don’t know about other states, but the agencies that are here in Idaho have provided everything.”
Aida | “First - peace! I cannot tell you how happy I am because I feel so safe going outside. Second - a very good life. I can tell you that I have every need.”
Gulbaht | “Idaho has given me everything.”
Q: What would you give back to Idaho if given the opportunity?
Bahar | “I used to be a teacher in my country so I love working with students in the schools. I can’t be a teacher because I don’t have a certificate here, but I can help teachers here by being a volunteer.”
Maryam | “As I learn, I will help Idaho and I will work and do everything good for those that helped me.”
Anonymous | “I want to do what I can to help the agency and do my best to help refugees.”
Nilofar | "My hope and my wish is that when I am up on my feet and I am ready to go, I want to give back 100% for what Idaho has given me. I want to help out, just like me, I want to help a refugee, and provide the same help I was given."
Anonymous | “Americans like my food! If I see anybody that likes my food, I will give them my food. If needed, I will help in any way that I can!”
Mariam | “I sent my daughter to college. She is done with college and she was studying general business, and she is working now at the bank. She is second hand with the manager, she is doing very well.”
Yalda | “Get a job, go to a job, and get working!”
Hava | “If I have time whatever people ask me to do, I am willing to help.”
Masooma | “I am raising my kids to help anyone that they see needs help. I encourage them to stand up and do that. I wish I knew the language and I had better health to help more, but I can make sure my kids are able to pay back for everything that I have.”
Aida | “I feel so bad that I am not working right now. I feel pride. I feel pride and don’t want the help, but since the state is providing it, I have to take it, I have no choice. The city is big and I have to get used to finding my way around. One day I will be able to find a way to pay back the kindness that is being given to me.”
Gulbaht | “Physically I am not able to help in person, but if I am better and able to someday I will!”
Q: What are you most grateful for?
Bahar | “I am happy because we are safe and we were given everything to be not stressed and happy. I am not afraid of everything because I had many problems in my country, but here, Boise, is a very, very, very beautiful state and we like all of the people here because they are nice people.”
Maryam | “I am happy because I am here and here we are equals, from everything, we are equal, there is no difference between the people.”
Anonymous | “To me, I am grateful for the freedom. Freedom is not being in war, being safe, is not having people killed around you.”
Nilofar | "The kindness of people in Idaho. When you see somebody or meet somebody, everyone is kind and acknowledges people in a kind way."
Anonymous | “I will be excited when I get my green card so I can see my children. I would like to get my green card, I am waiting.”
Mariam | “I am grateful for respect, and I love safety. I like the people around me, they help me alot. Different cultures, different people, it is all wonderful.”
Yalda | “I am thankful for Idaho. I find myself comfortable living here.”
Hava | “I loved to discover that it is quiet and peaceful in Idaho.”
Masooma | “The people of this state make us comfortable, we don’t feel like we want to go anywhere else or move anywhere else. Idaho is home.”
Aida | “When I was in my own country where there is no place for women as much, we didn't have that peace and safety on the street. It bothered me so much that if I had to step outside of my house that I would hear the insults and all the bad stuff, but I feel at peace here. No one bothers anyone - I feel the kindness.”
Gulbaht | “Peace, cleanness, and being comfortable. I like that you can go day and night somewhere if you have to and not feel like you are in danger.”
Our new American neighbors demonstrate tremendous strength and resiliency throughout their resettlement journey, and the individuals in our women’s group have modeled exactly that. Through this courage, our clients have the support of our welcoming community. If you would like to support today, our Idaho Gives 2022 campaign is live through the end of the day on May 5th, 2022. A donation to our agency is a gift to our new American neighbors: a meal, a hygiene kit, a bus pass, a bed. A donation to our agency is your way of saying “Welcome Home” to new Americans. Donations can be made directly to our Idaho Gives page at: Give to Agency for New Americans, by Jannus Inc. | Idaho Gives.
You can also support our agency by sharing these women’s stories, and making it known that the Idaho community welcomes refugees. Together, we can build a stronger, more diverse community that celebrates inclusion and distinctive cultures. Together, we can make Idaho a welcoming home for all.