Personal Stories

Soviet Jews Push Back on Trump’s Executive Order

Feb 03, 2017

“Refugee status is not merely a stamp on paper; it's a state of mind and heart which forces one to risk it all for better life. We feel affinity and kinship to those in the same plight.”

Teens Win Status With Legal Help From HIAS: “It Feels Good to Live Without Fear”

Nov 29, 2016

Nerea, Oliver, and Eduardo have experienced more violence than any child should. In Honduras, they were stalked by MS13, a notorious street gang, and moved into their aunt and uncle’s home in a neighboring city in an effort to escape. But that was just the start.

Voting for the First Time, Former Refugees Embrace Democracy

Nov 04, 2016

“We became refugees in the first place because there was no democratic process, no freedom. So how can you stay in your house and say your vote doesn’t count?”

Syrian Family Lands in Maryland, Gets Big Welcome from Local Synagogue

Sep 07, 2016

At 6 p.m. on Thursday evening, Karen Green is abuzz with last minute preparations. In just a few hours, she’ll be at Reagan National airport to meet the Syrian refugee family her congregation has spent the last 10 days anxiously preparing for.

A Syrian Refugee in Quito

Aug 10, 2016

It’s not an exaggeration to call the current refugee crisis global. Its effects are truly being seen worldwide. Meet Dannah, who fled her native Damascus with her mother and daughter and is now rebuilding her life in Ecuador, with help from HIAS.

Stories of Strength, Survival and Success: Asylum Seekers in Israel

Jul 25, 2016

After escaping persecution in Eritrea, Asmait made her way to Israel, where she became a custodian in a neighborhood school. Despite her hard work, the students teased her ruthlessly. Their attitudes changed only after a teacher asked Asmait to share her story with them. “It felt strengthening,” explained Asmait. “I knew then that the reason people are not happy to see us is just because they do not know our story.”

A Joyful Life Becomes a Work of Art

Jul 12, 2016

Even more than the perpetual smile on his face, Sebazira Amatutule is known for his eagerness to help others. After 17 years in a refugee camp, Amatutule was resettled to the U.S. with his two children. Despite working full time as a landscaper and raising two kids on his own, he always makes time to help anyone who asks. Amatutule’s inspiring story is now part of a photography exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.

Countdown to Resettlement: Iranian Refugees Prepare for Life in the US

Jul 06, 2016

When I walk into the cultural orientation session, intended to help prepare this group of Iranian refugees for life in the U.S., they are in the middle of a game. All of the participants, young and old, jump up and rush to find seats. One young woman, who is not trying particularly hard to find a chair, feigns disappointment at having to answer the next question.

VIDEO: After 17 Years, Refugee Brothers Find A New Country, A New Home

Jun 20, 2016

Watch this beautiful Jewish-Muslim-Christian refugee story and meet Jalal, Kamal, and the community that welcomed them with open arms.

León Rodríguez: Welcoming Refugees is More Than Just a Humanitarian Obligation

Jun 20, 2016

Before he became Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security, León Rodríguez was the grandchild of Jews who fled anti-semitism in Poland and Turkey. “At the end of the day, refugees and refugee families are just like us, except in much more difficult situations,” Rodríguez says in an exclusive video interview.

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