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Meet Mr. Saifula

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Workforce Challenge

Seventeen years ago, Mr. Saifula and his family fled his home country of Burma with his wife and three children for a refugee camp in Thailand. The Saifula family lived at a refugee camp called Ohn Pyen for 15 years. He eventually landed in the U.S. in Jacksonville, FL with the help of Catholic Charities. With the recession affecting the job market and his minimal English language skills, he wasn’t able to land anything right away without assistance.

Workforce Solution

Catholic Charities connected Saifula with the refugee specialists at Lutheran Social services and WorkSource for additional job placement help.

The WorkSource representative helped Saifula learn to talk about his skills and look for full time employment. He learned what to say when applying for jobs, how to use proper body language and display the right attitude during the job interview.

WorkSource called on the established partnership with Amelia Island Plantation, which has resulted in the successful employment of many refugees. A Lutheran Social Services employment specialist regularly transports a group of refugees to the Plantation to fill out applications and do skills assessments.

Outcomes & Benefits

Saifula was offered a job at the Amelia Island Plantation in April, 2010 making $10 per hour. “I am a dishwasher at the Plantation and do, well, really, anything the food and service department requests of me,” he says. “I really like it; it’s my first real job. My children see me work hard and it makes me happy and proud to provide for them. They have seen our struggles to get to the U.S. and I hope they have learned that if they work hard, they can stay here and make a life for themselves.”


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