Elizabeth's photo

Young Entrepreneur Finds a Home

Forced from her homeland, a young mother seeks education and her own business.

On February 9th 2017 Representative David Young met with Catholic Charities staff and clients to learn more about the plight of refugees coming to America. He met individually with three Catholic Charites refugee clients from El Salvador, Burma, and Somalia regarding the persecution, police and government corruption, poverty, lack of opportunity and many injustices they all experience as a refugee in their secondary country. They also shared their background stories and what their life is like now in Des Moines, Iowa. This is a story from that meeting…

Originally from Burma, Elizabeth and her family fled threats of violence and harm by the Myanmar Army. Her father decided they should leave after their villages and homes were destroyed by the military officials. They immigrated to Thailand and then to Malaysia to escape violence.  In Malaysia, she operated a hair salon to support her family but continued to feel persecuted by the corruption of local police towards Burmese refugees.

On September 2016, Elizabeth, her five-year-old son, David, and parents arrived in Des Moines. They reunited with family they had not seen in many years. Catholic Charities staff assisted Elizabeth’s family in securing an apartment, signing up for ESL classes, and developing a work resume. Elizabeth was enrolled in Catholic Charities Match Grant program due to her excellent English skills. The Match Grant program is funding that allows Catholic Charities to spend additional time with qualified clients to focus on career opportunities. She was accepted into the US Job Corps program, a no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve the quality of their lives through vocational and academic training. She plans to attend classes and training while working towards receiving a small business certificate. She eventually hopes to start her own small business.