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Refugee uses life experiences to get through stay at home order

Posted at 5:34 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 07:33:48-04

TWIN FALLS — Undergoing a stay at home order and a pandemic is an unusual circumstance that most of us are unfamiliar with; still, one refugee in Twin Falls is using her life experience to be able to get through this uncertain time.

"It's been very hard because I am a very social person, a very outdoor person. I love to make new friends and introduce myself to people and smile. It's been so hard because with a mask, you can not see people smiling, and you can not smile as well," Asmaa Albukaie, a Syrian refugee, said.

Asmaa had just started to make friends and meet neighbors when she moved to Twin Falls, but not too long after that, the governor announced the stay-at-home order. She was left with no other choice but to social distance from all her new friends.

"I just started to build a relationship and make friends in Twin Falls, and as soon as I had the first contact, everything blacked out, everything closed, and I can not continue making friends," Albukaie said.

Asmaa spent most of her life in Syria but left her country in 2011. She spent a year in Egypt before she moved to Boise, and six months ago, she moved to Twin Falls. She says her life experience has taught her how to have patience during this time.

"The whole process taught me to be patient and try again and work hard and also never give up. I think giving up is not my personality. Still, sometimes we are all human, so sometimes we all feel weak, so specifically my experience as a refugee, I learned never to give up," Albukaie said.

Refugee families nationwide face additional challenges during this time. With stricter travel restrictions, some of the refugees in the U.S. won't be able to receive family members they were expecting to arrive anytime soon.

And that's not the only dilemma they face.

"They also worry about where their loved ones live now. They live in refugee camps, and in most cases, those refugee camps are packed with people. If those refugee camps are attacked with this pandemic, then they are worried about what will happen," Zeze Rwasama, Director of the CSI refugee program, said.

Asmaa says she hopes people remain optimistic during this time.

"I am pretty sure that everything will go back to normal and hopefully that would be temporary and just enjoy the time right now with our family and spend more time with them because probably when everything goes back to normal and busy, we will not have that chance again," Albukaie said.