Stories of Change

Top: Wajdi and his family's arrival in the U.S. Middle and Bottom: Wajdi and his family

Father’s Day: A Celebration of Resilience and New Beginnings

This Father’s Day, as we celebrate the dedication and love of fathers worldwide, let’s also take a moment to recognize the courage and perseverance of refugee fathers who have overcome immense challenges to build a better life for their families. This is not just a story about fatherhood; it is also a testament to the strength and resilience of refugee families as they navigate new beginnings in unfamiliar lands. Here, we share the touching journey of one such father, whose experiences encapsulate the essence of both Father’s Day and World Refugee Day.

“I have three kids,” Wajdi, CWS’s Director of Financial Business Partners, told us, reflecting on his journey from Egypt to the United States. This week, his eldest, Mohamed, graduated from  high school. Mohamed’s transformation is a source of immense pride for his father. “He just did his senior speech last week. He’s playing guitar and has started playing soccer at school, something he never wanted to do in Egypt.” Mohamed has applied for many scholarships in the United States and received acceptance from St. Thomas and Minneapolis Public School.

Wajdi’s pride extends to his daughters as well. His 16-year-old, Alaa, has flourished in the school orchestra, playing the violin. “She started to play violin when she was in Cairo,” Wajdi recalls. Her recent concert, which featured Arabic songs, was a poignant reminder of the family’s cultural heritage. Alaa has also taken up soccer and ice skating, sports she might not have explored back home. “You moved to the right city in the United States that they love ice skating because this is a popular game here in Minnesota,” Wajdi tells Alaa, celebrating her adaptability and enthusiasm.

Maria, the youngest at 11, is described as a natural leader. “She’s a very social person,” Wajdi says, recounting how she led her classmates back in Cairo and continues to do so in their new home. Beyond his immediate family, Wajdi is working tirelessly to reunite with his parents, who are still in Egypt.

 “I am in the process of bringing them through a Welcome Corps program,” he explains. His dedication to family extends to his professional life, where he works with CWS, an organization committed to helping refugees. “I believe in helping refugees and that’s the way I see myself for the future,” he says. His role as Director of Financial Business Partners allows him to support new structures within CWS, ensuring that the organization can continue its vital work.

During our interview with Wajdi, he emphasized the importance of welcoming refugees. “The new immigrants and the new refugees coming to the United States, they need to feel they are welcomed in this state, in this country.” He urges Americans to be empathetic, highlighting that refugees are eager to contribute positively to their new communities.

For fellow refugees, his message is one of patience and perseverance. “They have to be patient. Everything will be fine. They went through more hard times, for example, they are coming to the United States. They have to love this country. This country is the future for themselves, for their kids, for their grandkids.”

Wajdi’s family journey has also been one of cultural exchange. From enjoying American hamburgers to discovering Mexican food, their story is a beautiful blend of old and new traditions. Wajdi humorously recalls a dinner where a friend likened their love for spicy Yemeni food to Mexican cuisine, calling them “Mohicans” instead of Mexicans.

On this Father’s Day and World Refugee Day, let’s honor the fathers who, like Wajdi, navigate the complexities of parenthood while adapting to new worlds. Their stories of love, sacrifice, and resilience remind us of the universal values that bind us all.

To read more stories in honor of World Refugee Day, click here.