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Chacha Mahiri

Posted April 30, 2013 • Filed Under Stakeholder Spotlight

I believe that ‘everyone has a story to tell’. Often in the community, in schools, out in the world we meet people who sometimes touch us and their story gets hinged in our hearts for a long time to come. I have been one of those, living an immigrant story and yet lucky to have met different people from all walks of life who believe in the array of common shared dream of getting a slice of the American pie.

Born in East Africa, I was infused with the bubbling life under the sun until my late teens when seeking greener pastures my father migrated to the US, and along I followed. While I was lucky to be here, I was thrust in a new dynamic world full of opportunities yet rife with the challenges of circumnavigating life as an immigrant. With visa restrictions I could not work and jumped through a myriad of hoops to find means to get a College education. Over the years I have had to change my immigration status, eventually obtaining a student visa that brought a hint promise and yet with its own new set of challenges. While allowed to work and aspiring to be contributing member of society, I had to breach levees to find finding meaningful employment suitable within my area of study and visa restrictions. At the moment I’m en route with the process to become a permanent resident. Newly in the area I also enjoy scouting the local eateries, snapping a photo here and there around town, occasionally I catch a show at Court Square Theater, salsa a Thursday away at Artful Dodgers or sample a vino evening at the nearby Downtown Wine and Gourmet.

My desire to volunteer at NewBridges is to help the at large immigrant community in the Rockingham-Harrisonburg community. Immigrants face a lot of hurdles, be it either in finding work, school, obtaining social services, getting access to local and government resources, overcoming language barriers and their constant struggle to function as able-bodied members of the community. Thus I would like to help lessen that burden for the diverse new immigrants who dwell in the area.