As an asylum seeker here in Maine, I am a believer in human rights for all people, and my efforts to work for human rights forced me to leave the only home I ever knew.
I began to receive threats against my life when I was involved in the Global Youth Anticorruption Network as an activist in the fight against corruption in my home country of Burundi. I had no choice but to leave my country and seek safety in the United States – land of opportunity, freedom, and the home of the brave.
When I got to Maine, I needed a place to stay. I had no family, no friends, and no income. I had no idea what my life was going to be like, where I was going to sleep, or where I would get my next meal.
The temporary supports provided by General Assistance helped me start a new life. I finally felt safe. Through workfare, I was able to do work I had professional experience in back in my homeland. I was able to give back to the community.
When I received my employment authorization, I started working right away. I am now employed full-time and no longer rely on General Assistance. I am able to support myself and pay my bills.
Without General Assistance, I would never have the chance to achieve things I’m doing today or be well-prepared for my new life in America. It helped me to learn about the community and how to prepare for the work that I’m doing today.
I am very thankful for General Assistance and I hope it continues to help others who are facing similar situations like mine.
People coming to this country for a fresh start shouldn’t have to face worse hardships than those they are fleeing in their native countries.