Meet Saw Gary, Resettlement Specialist, World Relief Spokane:
I was born in Burma with eight brothers and sisters. When I was twelve years old we fled to Thailand to seek asylum. We didn’t make it to a camp, but instead lived on the border of Burma and Thailand in a small village. We were not considered Thai so we didn’t receive the same help that other asylum seekers in the area were getting. If you make it into a Thai camp you get daily amenities like food, water and shelter, but in the village where we stayed it was difficult to provide for everyone. We had nowhere to go. If we went back to Burma we would be killed. My brother and I traveled to Bangkok where we eventually received asylum status. I was just sixteen at the time. Traveling a great distance with nowhere to stay and my safety at risk was scary. It was possible for us to get arrested at any time and deported back to Burma. We ended up staying at a church that helped us throughout our time in Bangkok. We were resettled to Minneapolis, where I graduated high school and eventually found a job. I was eager to do something with refugees and with language. I speak seven languages, which helped me find a job at World Relief Minneapolis as an employment specialist. After some time working there, I got married and moved to Spokane, where I again began working for World Relief.
I really enjoy the job because at one point I was in their position. It’s hard, but I can encourage them that they’ll get there eventually. I am a refugee, so giving back and helping other refugees is the best thing I can do. Sometimes people get distracted by the things they see on the news, but it’s so important to get to know refugees personally, connect with them and hear their stories. Their stories touch so many. When someone relocates to a new place it’s hard in the beginning, but finally that person is safe. They have a car and a job and they can stand on their own. It is amazing to see and be a part of.