Ali Hamad is a young man from Darfur, Sudan. He was 18 years old when the genocide broke out in his native village. Ali lost all his family members and was forced to flee to neighboring Libya. Ali arrived in Libya in 2005, where he worked as a laborer. He lived in Libya for 6 years, until the Libyan Civil War began in 2011. Many immigrant workers living in Libya at the time, including Ali, were harassed and persecuted. Ali then spent three months on the streets of Tripoli, hiding from local militias. He then decided to take the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, as he had nowhere else to go.
In Greece, Ali was interviewed by UNHCR staff and was then referred for resettlement in the US, three months after arriving in Lampedusa.
When Ali arrived in the US, he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and experienced ongoing episodes of flashbacks from the Darfur genocide and his journey through the Mediterranean. Regardless, Ali was quick to adjust to his new surroundings. He was eager to learn English and gain employment. Ali attended ESL classes and employment related activities at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County (CC). With the help of CC, Ali was able to secure an entry-level position as an assembly worker at a local factory. Ali had tremendous support from the volunteers at Catholic Charities who provided him with a wide array of services including ESL tutoring, cultural orientation, mentoring and assistance with transportation. Ali attributes his success to CC and says, “I am blessed to be alive today and I thank CC for providing me with stability and support”.
Peter Makundo is a native of Sierra Leone. In 1998, Peter was 8 years old when his mother was arrested by the Sierra Leonean Ruling Party (also known as Sierra Leone National Front (SNF)). The SNF later declared that his mother’s whereabouts were unknown and he never saw her again.
Six years later, SNF arrested and tortured Peter’s father. He, too, was declared missing. Peter (14 years old), and his younger sister (Marina 12 years old) were left on their own. Peter and his sister then fled to a refugee camp in neighboring Uganda, where he applied for refugee status through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was granted resettlement to the U.S.
Once Peter arrived in the U.S. he was supported by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County Refugee Resettlement Program, and was able to secure a one bedroom apartment that he shared with two other newly arriving refugees. Peter attended RR’s English Learners classes with the goal to learn English and find work. After 4 months, Peter was able to secure an entry-level position at one of the local hotels. While he worked, he continued to attend English Learners classes because he had ambitions to attend a local community college in the following year.
Now, Peter has a full-time job in addition to attending community college to further his education. Peter is very grateful for the help that Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County has provided for him throughout the years. Peter says “Thank you Catholic Charities for all your help, I wouldn’t have been where I am today without your help”.
These are just a few of the ways we are impacting our community through our vehicle donation program in San Jose. Feel free to reach out to learn more about how to donate a car for tax credit and where to donate a car. We look forward to working with you to reach out to our local community.