Stories of Change

Deborah with her children when they arrived in the United States.

“If I did not have the opportunity of getting into the United States, maybe I wouldn’t be alive today.”

“My name is Deborah Baliraine Jane, a mother of four children and an acid survivor. Prior to an attack that happened to me in January 2014, while I was still in my country of origin, Uganda, I was a successful businesswoman. I owned a restaurant and a bakery, which hired around 15 people. I also worked with women who were victims of domestic violence to empower [them], and I guided them on how to be financially independent.

The idea of supporting these women was greatly opposed by the men from my community, being a patriarchal society where men do not want women to lead. They connived to silence me, which resulted in the attack, leaving me vulnerable and hospitalized for a year.

My once-booming business was ruined, and on top of that the perpetrators of the crime continued to threaten me if I did not drop charges, which I had filed against them. This forced me to leave my country for safety.

It was through the refugee resettlement program that today I am able to raise my children in a safe place. America has become my new home. Each day I work very hard to contribute to this country that saved my life, my children and my future. When I learned of the devastating news of the refugee resettlement program [being] on the verge of getting closed, it broke my heart. There are many people out there who have similar stories like mine, or maybe different, but [they] are unable to go back to their home countries for various reasons.  America closing its doors on the most vulnerable refugees would be like pushing them to die. If I did not the opportunity of getting into the United States, maybe I wouldn’t be alive today. No one chooses to flee home – we all flee for safety.”