MCC Refugee Services’ newest employee, Ahmed “Jaffer,” joined the Mankato team just two months ago. He brings a wealth of experience and a great sense of humor as he works to help those who came to our community as refugees find employment in Minnesota. I interviewed him to learn about what brought Jaffer to MCC Refugee Services and share the work he is doing in the Mankato area.
Knowing that nicknames can offer insight into someone’s history, I asked Jaffer how he got his nickname. He explained that he grew up in Somalia and was given the name Jaffer by his parents. As a 2nd grader, he made the decision to change his own name to Ahmed, but he laughingly regrets the decision. He explained that Ahmed is such a common name in the Somali community, but Jaffer is unique. Regardless of the name change, he’s always been known as Jaffer in his community.
In Somalia, Jaffer worked as an elementary school teacher, teaching math and language, and then he worked with the UNHCR and other NGOs helping refugees affected by the war. He married and had 4 children before coming to the US as a refugee. When Jaffer resettled, he came to Memphis by himself and had to wait 4 long years to reunite with his wife and children. A self-described “family man,” Jaffer is now the proud father of 9 children, ages 31/2-24. The family moved to Minnesota at the end of 2015, although Jaffer stayed behind in Tennessee for college graduation before rejoining the rest of his family.
Jaffer works with individuals with refugee and asylee status who desire assistance finding a job. Once he makes an initial connection, he moves forward with an intake appointment, collecting the proper documents, and connecting them to skill training opportunities for the American workplace. He makes connections with employers, assists with applications, and provides support for 90 days after an individual starts working.
Before he joined MCC Refugee Services, Jaffer has held a wide variety of jobs, so he’s able to share firsthand with new arrivals what a career path might look like. After having been a teacher and an aid worker in Somalia, Jaffer’s first job in the US involved cutting mat boards with a Wizard Software- loaded machine for a picture frame company. He also worked at Walmart as a salesperson, completed an electrical engineering technology at Southwest Tennessee Community College, and supervised PCAs working in home care. Through many different work experiences, Jaffer has maintained a passion for helping refugees and was thrilled to find an opening with MCC Refugee Services of Mankato.
When he’s not working, Jaffer keeps busy with his family and a love of sports. He loves to teach his children and help them stay busy at home with learning activities. He’s also an avid soccer fan and player.
Recent executive orders blocking and reducing refugee arrivals have significantly impacted our funding. We continue to welcome refugees and are committed to serving those who have already arrived with employment services, connection to health care and social services, and assistance with obtaining permanent residency and US citizenship. Please donate today to keep our services strong.
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The executive orders blocking refugee admissions and the subsequent legal challenges to those orders have continued to make news headlines and create uncertainty about refugee resettlement in the US. For updates on the situation, we recommend that you follow our national partner Episcopal Migration Ministries on Facebook.
From October 2016 through September 2017, we welcomed 316 refugees. We welcomed 23 new arrivals in August and are hoping to welcome 17 individuals in September.