Carmen came to the United States at 16 to escape the chaos that plagued her early childhood. She soon met a man who seemed caring and protective – she felt safe. It wasn’t long after they married that her husband began to treat Carmen just as her father treated her mother. Carmen’s first pregnancy made her husband angry. She withstood humiliation and abuse, never calling the police because her husband convinced her that calling the police was useless. He threatened her with deportation and loosing custody of the children. One day, he threatened their daughter, and Carmen found the courage to leave.
A local domestic violence shelter referred Carmen to Catholic Charities’ Legal Services for Immigrants program. She was surprised when our staff said her case was fairly common. Carmen and her legal services attorney prepared an extensive and detailed affidavit. They gathered all the evidence and mailed in an application for protection under the Violence Against Women Act. Today, Carmen has lawful permanent residency. She and her children are safe. Carmen is working and going to school part-time.
In 1996, Zwazita fled her war-torn homeland in the Congo, to a refugee camp in Tanzania, with her husband and 10 children. In 2013, her husband died of cancer while in the camp, and Zwazita was left to care for the children. Two years later, she and six of her children were resettled in Milwaukee through Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement program. Two of her adult sons had already resettled here and there was great joy when Zwazita and the children arrived.
The family thrives, thanks to the committed work of their Catholic Charities resettlement case worker who spoke Zwazita’s dialect and made the transition to a new culture so much easier. Zwazita started to learn English through the agency’s English as a Second Language classes. She takes pride in her younger children who are doing well in school.
Today, she and one of her older daughters are happily employed, and the family is now self-sufficient. Zwazita has two adult children who are married and still in the refugee camp – they look forward to the day when they are reunited.