Seeta Habib is a natural storyteller. Growing up in Afghanistan, she recounts how her mother would industriously weave fabrics in their home and use the earnings to pay for Seeta to secretly receive English lessons. Seeta later became a journalist and used her position to fight for women’s rights. That was, until the death threats started. After over a decade in a career she loved, last year Seeta was forced to flee to the United States under a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV).
Upon her arrival, Seeta searched for positions where she could put her expertise to use, but struggled to find opportunities where her skillset was recognized. “People told me I could find a job working at a warehouse or at a restaurant,” she recalled. “I know that any kind of work is good work, but how would that impact my career? My mom gave up a lot for me to get where I am –– I knew I had more to give.”
While searching for resources, Seeta came across Tipping Point grantee Upwardly Global, an organization that supports immigrants and refugees contributing vital skills to the professional U.S. workforce. Seeta was accepted into Upwardly Global’s job-seeker program and matched with a coach –– the possibility of getting back into her career was finally taking shape. Seeta’s coach helped in formatting and tailoring her resume and honing her interviewing skills. Most significantly, her coach also provides her with insight into the norms and protocols of the U.S. job market, which often differ from the job landscape overseas.
Following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, there are over 65,000 Afghans* seeking to evacuate to the U.S. under the SIV status. Upwardly Global is ramping up operations to support even more of our future neighbors as they resettle into careers that utilize their unique talents and professional skills within our communities.
Seeta is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree to better her job prospects, while working full-time and raising four kids. Seeta is determined that her story serve as a beacon for those who must leave behind their livelihoods in search of safety and a reminder of what immigrants and refugees contribute to the fabric of our society. “For me, always humanity is important. I use this opportunity to advocate for my people, for all people who are refugees.”
*Reuters on 8/26/21