Skip to content

How Refugees Pursue Their Dreams through Workforce Development: Prapa’s Story

Last year our workforce development team helped over 600 refugees and other immigrants find jobs. Each job placement represents a story full of loss, dreams, and hope. Employment Counselor Kailoni Wegehaupt introduces us to one inspiring family whose grit and determination is paying off as they pursue their goals after years of displacement.

After nearly a decade of struggle and turmoil, Prapa, Ramya, and their children landed in the US in August 2022. Their displacement included time spent in the infamous detention centers on the island nation of Nauru. But like other refugees, they arrived with high English proficiency, college degrees, and strong determination. My role as their employment counselor was to help them pursue their vocational goals. 

From the outset, Prapa recognized the importance of finding employment swiftly to ensure his family’s stability. As part of our workforce development plan, they enrolled in the Match Grant program, which promotes economic self-sufficiency. 

Two months later, Prapa and I visited a metal manufacturing company. Despite holding a Master of Science in Biotechnology, he opted for the most demanding position due to its higher pay. While some might have begrudged this decision, Prapa embraced it happily, motivated by the opportunity to provide for his family. He soon obtained his driving license and purchased a car, partially funded by the Match Grant savings and assistance. 

By March 2023, Prapa’s employer had offered him training in the laboratory, allowing him to apply his academic qualifications. The family had enough money to take a road trip to the East Coast, and Ramya was making strides towards her ambition of working from home in the technology sector. 

Today, just 18 months after their arrival in the US, Prapa continues to thrive in his work. He has obtained additional certifications along with a significant pay increase. Additionally, he holds a part-time position in the laboratory, further enhancing his skills and value to the company. 

It’s been a joy and honor to work with Prapa and Ramya through our workforce development program and be a part of their story. Their determination and positivity in the face of so many past and present challenges is truly inspiring!

You can help create change that lasts for refugee families like Prapa and Ramyan as they translate their skills into a new environment.

Site Designed and Developed by 5by5 - A Change Agency