My Name is Wadad a girlforward story

The United States has a proud history of admitting refugees for resettlement. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Europeans were admitted after World War II. Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled over 3 million refugees from around the world. As a refugee, you do not get to choose your destination. If you already have family legally in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there, but otherwise it is random. Each year, the President of the United States, after consulting with Congress and the appropriate agencies, determines the designated nationalities and processing priorities for refugee resettlement for the upcoming year. Before being allowed to come to the U.S., each individual must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process. In fact, refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people entering the country.

In the past several years, the U.S. has accepted around 70,000 refugees annually from countries around the world, including Bhutan, Iraq, Burma, DR Congo, Ethiopia, and others. Only about 1,800 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since the war began.

GirlForward is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunity for refugee girls who have resettled in the U.S. after fleeing war and persecution. We empower girls through individual mentorship, educational programs and leadership opportunities.

Camp GirlForward is a one-of-a-kind summer education program for refugee girls from countries around the world. Most GirlForward girls have been in school less than two years before they arrive in the U.S. Globally, only 6% of refugee students attend secondary school, and girls typically attend school in far smaller numbers than boys. Camp GirlForward gets girls high school-ready and surrounds them with supportive friends and teachers.

Most of Camp GirlForward takes place in the classroom, where girls spend three full days each week for eight weeks. Our teachers focus on helping girls build English speaking, listening, reading and writing skills as well as their overall confidence.

One day each week is spent outside the classroom on a field trip, learning about history, places in the city, and how to get around on buses and trains.

In 2015, after four years of serving girls in Chicago, GirlForward launched a second site in Austin, Texas. In the past several years, Texas has become the biggest state for refugee resettlement, with about 7,000 people resettling there each year.

GirlForward matches refugee girls with amazing, dedicated mentors who meet with them weekly, helping them set and achieve their goals, graduate from high school and pursue their dreams.

Wadad is one of the 100 refugee girls who find friends, mentors, and a safe space through GirlForward every year. Everything from Wadad's favorite day at the zoo to the bus pass that got her there is made possible through your support. We are in the midst of the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen. In conflict, adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to violence, isolation, and being kept out of school. When they are resettled, they need extra support. That's where we come in.

SPECIAL THANKS to Wadad, Hadeel Abdulkareem, Suzanne Akhras Sahloul and especially Cori Lin.

Cori Lin, Lane Brettschneider

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