Reflections by Issaq

Issaq fled Somalia as a young man to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He arrived in the United States in September last year, and in October, we welcomed him to the Providence Granola Project. Recently, we asked Issaq's case manager at the local refugee resettlement agency Dorcas International Institute of RI--which refers refugees to us for job training--to talk to Issaq about his experiences. He conducted the interview in Somali.

 Isaaq in the kitchen

Isaaq in the kitchen

“My first impression of Providence Granola Project,” Issaq said, “was that my supervisor did not like me much, but soon I understood that was just a language barrier. I became good friends with my supervisor, and she treated me with humanity. My coworkers were also great, and we had a good working relationship. I found good people who are willing to help someone who does not speak English.

“I never ate or made granola before. I was concerned it might have ingredients that my religion would not allow me to consume. Now I know how to make it. My impression is that it is used during the winter, mostly by old people.

“The main challenges I had at PGP were communicating and keeping a schedule. I overcame the schedule part, but I’m still grappling with the communication as my English is not fluent. However, I’m a good observer, and I learn fast.

“My tasks included putting the granola in the oven to cook after it was prepared; cleaning pans, pots, other utensils, and washing the floor; putting the product in the cooler, and working in the packaging and labeling section.

 “What I liked best was the staff, including my supervisor and the management, who treated me with dignity and honesty. And I also loved learning new things, like making granola.

“The training is helpful preparation for a job search. I learned how to work with different kinds of machines, how to keep a schedule and come to work on time, how to work with people of different cultures ad languages, and how to understand and practice English.

“My hopes for the future are to become self-sufficient and to be reunited with my family. I also hope to improve my English so I can have a better life. I want to get a driver’s license and buy a car. And I hope to save money and buy a home.”

--In January, Issaq began his first job at Falvey Linen Supply in Providence. He still stops by the PGP to visit his friends and coworkers.

Caroline Ellis of submitted this post.