Giving Back and Growing Hope on World Refugee Day: Javid’s Story

Abdi Iftin | June 20, 2023

This past week ahead of World Refugee Day, I visited our local resettlement office in Harrisonburg, Virginia. While there I got the opportunity to meet with clients and volunteers and hear countless inspiring stories from our refugee clients like Javid from Afghanistan. 

Javid was born in Kabul, and completed his high school education before receiving a scholarship to study in Pakistan in 2015. Unfortunately in 2016, Javid’s brother, a journalist, was killed. They belong to the Hazara minority, originating from the Hazaristan region. After his parents warned him never to return, Javid embarked on a search for resettlement in various places. While in Pakistan, he faced another tragedy as he lost his father, who was also a journalist. 

Javid managed to finish college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science. In 2020 Javid was approved for refugee resettlement to the United States.

Despite being proficient in English upon arrival, Javid found the job search in the U.S. to be different and difficult. Javid often found himself puzzled when told to apply for jobs online. When people advised him to check the “career” section online, he would ask, “Is ‘career’ a place?”

“One interesting thing I discovered during my initial job search was that I wasn’t aware of how extensively Americans relied on online platforms. I used to carry my resume with me at all times, hoping to approach businesses and distribute paper resumes, just like we did in Afghanistan.”

Javid was able to get his first job in the U.S. as a cashier at Target. However, after a month, he was informed that he needed an employment authorization card which was delayed due to COVID-19. Over the next few weeks, Javid managed to find temporary work to support himself until his work permit arrived. 

Eventually, he became an interpreter and volunteered with some newly arrived Afghans. During the evacuation of Afghan nationals following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, Javid transitioned from being a volunteer interpreter to a case manager, assisting refugees. He dedicated his weekends to helping people from his country. 

On World Refugee Day, he has a message for the world and the American people, “When people flee their homes, become refugees, and come to America, they not only bring themselves, but also their skills, mindset, and aspirations.”

Despite his short time in the U.S., Javid has started his own cleaning company with five employees, including Americans who were born and raised here.

“We don’t come here to cause destruction. We come here to contribute and make things even better.”