“I won't give up on you”
Hedy Abdou finds purpose in helping refugees and immigrants succeed
Cara Salazar, content writer
Hedy Abdou joined Bethany eager to support refugees and immigrants beginning a new life in Michigan. As program director, Hedy provides strategic, budgetary, and technical support ensuring they have the tools in place to succeed. In all that she does, Hedy is committed to walking alongside refugees and immigrants so they can feel safe, loved, and connected.
“Every day is different,” says Hedy. “When a refugee or immigrant is starting a new life, they have uncertainties, many questions. ‘Where will I live?’ ‘How will I learn English?’ ‘Where will my children go to school?’ ‘Will I be able to find a job?’ My passion is helping answer these questions and connecting them with services that are essential to becoming self-sufficient.”
While Hedy enjoys assisting new neighbors, the job does come with challenges. Two things she wishes she had more of: time and funding.
“The U.S. Department of State requires us to accomplish a list of reception and placement services within the first 90 days of a refugee’s arrival,” says Hedy. “Many times, our clients are in the process of learning English or don’t speak it at all. Language acquisition is imperative to their success, especially in securing a job, but it takes time. I often tell them, ‘You haven’t given up on yourself, so I won’t give up on you.’”
Additionally, Hedy must ensure adequate finances are in place so refugees can find safety and healing in their new community.
“Refugees often come to the U.S. with nothing, and the gap between resettlement assistance and the actual cost of starting over is great,” says Hedy. “An individual refugee gets only $1,325 in direct funding. For a refugee to put down a security deposit on an apartment, that might mean a large portion of their funding is already gone,” says Hedy.
But the success stories continue to motivate Hedy, especially on the hard days. Recently, a refugee family from the Democratic Republic of Congo was the recipient of Hedy’s dedicated assistance.
“We just resettled a family of eight; a widowed mom and seven children,” says Hedy. “When violent clashes between armed groups and government forces took her husband’s life, mom knew she had to find safety. This family is resilient. Two of the sons have already secured jobs and the younger children are thriving in school and enrolled in swimming lessons. The mom is taking cooking lessons and wants to open her own bakery someday,” says Hedy. “I know she will.”
Hedy is one of hundreds of Bethany employees making a difference in the lives of refugees and immigrants. Search and apply for jobs here.