The mid-south shows its diversity - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Posted by: Alisa Nave, 8/23/04, 11:00pm

The mid-south shows its diversity

By: Donna Davis

"My name is Lela, I'm from Afghanistan." "My name is Jaberto. I am from Cuba." "My name is Suzanne. I'm from Haiti." In classes immigrants and refugees from all over the world begin their pursuit of the American dream, right here in the Mid South. People like Hassan Osman, who came here in 1997 from Kenya. "Coming to a new world, where you don't know anyone, and pretty much blending in with society, and the anxiety. And the curiousity that you have of the people." Since 1975, Memphis' Catholic Charities has helped refugees and immigrants seeking life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not in major cities like New York or San Francisco but here, in the coziness of the Mid-South. "Since it's not such a big city, it's the perfect environment for anyone who wants to start over, and I think, as you grow up, there are few places you want to have friends for life. Few places you want to settle." Catholic Charities has helped settle 200 to 300 immigrants and refugees in the mid south, each year since 1975. For them, it's about touching people. "I've done this job for seventeen years, and it is one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever done, because I can see real improvement in lives," said Carolyn Tisdale with Catholic Charities. "Most of our clients don't speak the language, and how confusing that is. Not aware of how the system works. For instance, going to get a social security card can be mind boggling," said Efua Appah with Catholic Charities. Hassan is studying diplomacy and international relations. Hoping to some day give back to the community, and the country that has given him a fresh start.

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