Noor and Nurul are refugees from Burma who arrived in the U.S. in March 2015 and were resettled through LSG's Savannah office. LSG staff member Amelia interviewed them about their experiences as refugees in the United States.
Amelia: Why did you leave Burma?
Noor & Nurul: There was a lot of fighting between the Rakhine (Buddhists) and Rohingya (Muslims). Because Burma is a Buddhist country, the government would not provide the Rohingya Muslims with any support or help, and this was bad because the Rakhine were not good to our people. In our town, the Rohingya were being killed and our villages were being burned. As Rohingya, we feared for our lives. If we were caught by the Rakhine people, we could be put in jail or killed for no reason. It was not safe for the Rohingya because the Burmese government does not want Muslims in their country. Also, the government would not allow us to practice our religion. The government was even saying that the Rohingya are not true citizens of Burma, which is not true. Many generations of Rohingya were born in Burma, but the government says we are from Bangladesh.
There is no future for Rohingya people in Burma. We are not recognized as citizens, so there is no hope for a better education or a better future.
Amelia: How has LSG helped you with moving to the United States?
Noor & Nurul: LSG has helped us with everything! They have helped us find a new home and find a job. We have learned so much from LSG, and they have helped us in so many ways, to get food and to go to a doctor. We thank LSG a lot for everything they have done for us.
Amelia: Where do you work?
Noor & Nurul: A local concrete company
Amelia: What problems have you faced since moving here?
Noor & Nurul: No problems at all! We are very happy living in the U.S. We are not afraid of living in America. We are afraid of the Burmese government, but not the U.S. Government. Everything in America is freedom. When we first moved here, LSG helped us with food and rent and we did not have to worry. And we quickly found a job and were able to make money, so we are now able to take care of ourselves.
Amelia: What is your favorite thing about living in Savannah?
Noor & Nurul: We like all of America! We like the old city feeling about Savannah. The people are very nice and everyone has been so good to us. We have not found any bad people. It is also not too cold in Savannah and we like the heat.
Amelia: What are your favorite things to do for fun?
Noor & Nurul: Speak with friends, study English, ride our bikes, and homework
Amelia: What are your dreams for the future?
Noor & Nurul: Our main dreams for the future are to be good people. We want to go to school, we want to study English and improve our English. Right now we do not have any specific ideas on what our dreams for the future are. Maybe to own our own business and start a family.
Amelia: What would you like people in Savannah to know about being a refugee?
Noor & Nurul: People should know that our past lives were full of fear and problems; we could not live in freedom. But now that we are in the U.S., we have freedom, and we do not have fear like we did in Burma. When refugees come to America, they have much more hope for a better future.
Noor: I do have one thing to ask. I appreciate the U.S. government helping me and my friends get to America from Sri Lanka. But I would like to appeal to the U.S. government and UNHCR to please help the other Rohingya who have no place to sleep and live. Please help them, they have nothing. The U.S. government is the leader, and they can help.
Amelia: We are happy that your friend is coming to Savannah. What reasons did you tell him to move here for?
Nurul: I wanted our friend to move to Savannah because we like it so much, and we just knew that he would also like it. He can get help with finding a job, and even work with us. We know that we can help him learn about life in Savannah so that he will be happy!
LSG thanks Noor & Nurul for sharing their story. To learn more about refugees in Burma/Myanmar, click here. Contact support Lauren Cruickshank (Savannah) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Melanie Johnson (Atlanta) at email@example.com to learn how you can support refugees in the U.S.