International Rescue CommitteeWomen supporting women: An Afghan refugee and her first American friend
For refugees, starting over in a new country can be a scary thing—they've lost their homes, their friends, their community and their way of life. Just ask Afghanistan's Muska Haseeb, who fled her native country as a child and lived as a refugee in Pakistan for five years before resettling in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2012. “I cried so much on the plane,” she recalls. “I didn't know anyone, didn’t speak English… how was I going to integrate?”
Fast forward to today. Haseeb is thriving in the U.S.—after studying pre-med, she's now working in healthcare in Texas. She credits her mother, Haseeba, for the motivation to “climb out of the darkness,” and Mary Kaech, the first friend she made in America, who's now the executive director at Phoenix Refugee Connections.
Below, to mark National Best Friend Day on June 8, we're spotlighting a conversation between Haseeb and Kaech about their friendship, how they first met and what they have learned from each other. And to learn more about our partnership with the International Rescue Committee, and its good works supporting refugees worldwide, click here.
Muska & Mary
“I have somebody who knows me and knows where I started. And she's here to see me and support me.” — Muska
One thing that I've really learned from Muska is the idea of hospitality and being welcomed. It feels good to be welcomed by someone. It teaches me how I can slow down and I can value the people right in front of me.
People who believe that we shouldn't be welcoming refugees to the U.S., they don't understand the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and they haven't met someone face to face. They haven't eaten with someone who came here through the program. They don't know the extensive vetting process that people go through. They don't know the economic benefit to our country over the long term.
And I think, most importantly, they don't know that it's actually, by design, a life saving program. It's the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable who come here through this program. People don't understand that because we don't know what it's like to live in war and to be persecuted for who you are. Do whatever you can to get face-to-face with someone who came here as a refugee.
My life would be different and much less enjoyable if I didn't have Muska as a friend. She happily embraces my babies and they love her. Rose, my 3-year-old, thinks you're a princess.