Akbari is one of those refugees. He was first resettled at Lutheran Family Services in the Omaha area. When he asked his social worker where he could find work, he was told about a company an hour and a half away.
“The only option they gave me was Tyson,” he said. “I told him I was going to do with that.”
Not even knowing it was a meat processing plant, he moved – needing to support his family back in Afghanistan. But once he did, Akbari says it became difficult to contact his social worker. When he needed a social security number, he had a hard time asking for one. When he wanted to go to the doctor, he didn’t know if he had insurance or how to make an appointment.
“It’s so hard for me to figure it all out on my own.”
—Mohammad Akbari, Afghan refugee
Lutheran Family Services Assistant Vice President of Resettlement Programs Matt Martin said the organization is encouraging refugees to stay in the area for the first 90 days to get everything sorted out. But, many choose to leave their social workers to start working.
Akbari said his first few months in Sioux City he felt entirely alone.
“Without a social worker, it’s too hard, too hard. I have that experience,” Akbari said. “Even I really regret coming here. [Sioux City] and many times I thought about going back to Omaha because it’s so hard for me to figure it all out on my own.