No matter how early you arrive at the Social Security office, you will end up waiting until they call your name.
Not long ago I took a Bosnian woman to the Social Security office because she needed to change her address. While waiting, there was a couple behind us who were also from Bosnia. I heard them talking about how they were going to communicate with the representative, so I asked if they would like me to help. They gladly accepted my offer.
We began talking, and they shared that they arrived to the United States in 1998. They explained that they were in their 50's when they moved here and how difficult it was for them to learn English. Now they are over 70 years old. In the course of the conversation, I asked if they are planning to move back to Bosnia. They looked at me with smiles on their faces, but I could tell these were not happy smiles.
“Where would we go? We lost everything. Everything is different now. We lost many members of my family in the war. Going back will bring all the bad things back to our minds. This is my home now; this is where I belong now. My son lives here, we have grandchildren, and seeing them grow up makes us happy. Even without being able to speak English, this is our home.”
I was glad that I was able to help them. As we hear about changes in immigration laws and refugee status, we keep in mind that these people are not here because they wanted to be. They are here because they want to forget what happened to them. They are here for a new beginning. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s not easy to start a new life in new surroundings where you don’t speak the same language. But they call this country their home.
-Mira and Sasha Zivanov, CBF field personnel serving in St. Louis, Missouri