Saran Berete Doumbouya

In April 2012 I decided to send my daughter to the USA after her high school diploma. I told her that if she got good grades I would send her to America to study. That is what she did. But things went quicker than I had expected, because she was engaged to marry her cousin after she graduated from high school. So I started to prepare our trip in secret. We took our visa at the embassy of USA in Conakry in June. After Ramadan, in September, we decided to leave Guinea. The day we had to travel there had been a fight between the political parties. They blocked all the roads leading to the airport, we had to take side streets to get there while avoiding gun shots. We were so scared to be killed or to miss our flight. We didn't even know how we got to the airport. We were accompanied by my son, my nephew, and one of their friends. At the airport we had a lot of luggage as my daughter didn't want to leave anything she would miss. 


When we arrived at JFK there were so many people coming from everywhere that it took us a really long time to get through customs. After we got all of our stuff it was very hard to find a taxi. Finally we found a cab to take us to my cousin's apartment in the Bronx. My daughter was so excited to be in the USA but unfortunately we faced many problems at our arrival. First my friend that promised to take care of my daughter changed her mind. This was our first shock. I started to make phone calls to other relatives because I didn't want my daughter to live in New York which I found too crowded and insecure for a young girl. Finally, through family, we found her a home in New Bedford, Massachusetts.


After two weeks she registered to start school in the local high school, we went through many difficulties for her to be accepted but fortunately she studied hard and graduated with highest honors. Since then, things began to get easy for both of us. A few months later I started to go to the library classes in the Bronx to learn English. I had to take care of my cousin's kids when they came home from school, to clean the apartment, do dishes. I was not comfortable because I wasn’t used to living in apartment. In Africa there is a lot of space for everybody. Everybody stays in the garden or outside, watching people walking on the street, like some Spanish people do in New York in summer. 


During winter time, I had to face the cold weather which I wasn't used to. After it snowed I was scared to fall down on the ice which stayed on the streets, because one of my friends fell and broke her leg. During summer, I find New York too dirty with many dogs who do their business everywhere. I have noticed in New York that people use air conditioners less because of the high price of electricity in this city. It is too hot outside and too cool sometimes inside, in offices or in the subway. Most apartments start smelling bad after cooking. They have to use scent and sprays or open the windows to refresh their apartments.


When I found a babysitter job, I was so disappointed as my employers started asking me to do house work and chores around the house so I gave up because it was too hard for me to do this job. I started taking Home Health Aid classes to start working as a HHA instead. After my training I started to work with one agency in Queens but it is not easy because I only work during the weekends and sometimes they don't have any job for me for this schedule.  I was enrolled in a program at the Bellevue hospital which helped me a lot. They referred me to the English Speaking Union. I now take classes here and it has helped me to improve my English a lot and make long-lasting connections. . I am really grateful for the opportunity that both Bellevue hospital and the English Speaking Union has offered me, because without them, and of course the continued blessings given to me by God, I wouldn't be the person I am today here in America.  I don't want to abandon my English classes which will help me to get a good job later. 


One thing that I love in America is the fact that people are very nice and kind, they are very helpful. Here in America you can find any kind of job if you want to have money, it depends on your choice. Life is not easy, but if you try to keep going, you will get many opportunities which will give you freedom. Like it says "America is the land of the free" where everyone has his place to get a better life. 

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