Starting a new life in a new country can be difficult and Ala Shamam knows the struggles.
“It’s hard to come to a country where you don’t speak their language, you don’t know what they are thinking,” she said.
Shamam immigrated from North Sudan to the United States a few years ago. She is now an expanded functions dental assistant and offering her services at Project Worthmore, a nonprofit which has served Colorado’s refugee population for the past 10 years.
“People who are afraid of refugees coming to our country, don’t be afraid,” said Frank Anello, director of Project Worthmore. “It’s a really simple thing: don’t be afraid of people who look different than you.”
Anello says with the Biden administration announcing their plans to increase refugee admissions into the United States, this nonprofit is now expanding its operations.
“I believe our community deserves a state-of-the-art facility where they can walk in and feel like there’s someone there that believes in them and takes care of them,” he said.
International leaders say what’s happening at Project Worthmore is what other areas across the country should also do.
“Everybody needs a little bit of help in order to help themselves and then eventually give back as well,” said Chris Boian with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
He says the Trump administration lowered the number of refugee admissions each year to a now all-time low of 15,000.
With President Joe Biden pledging to increase that number to 125,000 by his last year in office, Boian says more services like the ones at Project Worthmore will pay dividends not only for refugees, but for all Americans.
“In helping those individuals in their moment of need at that time and in that way, we also help ourselves,” he said. “And that is an important thing to remember.”
For immigrants like Shamam, this help gives refugees a chance to rebuild their lives.
“It’s the land of dreams, so everybody is dreaming about coming to America,” she said. “I’m glad we have this service here, someone who can help you and guide you through your journey.”