“We were so happy” is how Thushanth described the feelings his family felt upon arriving in America. Thushanth couldn’t believe that “When people smile at you, they often say ‘Have a nice day,’ and that really makes me happy.”
Originally from Sri Lanka, Thushanth and his sister, Dunicka, along with their father and mother, Mohanantham and Santhakumari, came to the United States in 2015. Thushanth was 22-years-old when he arrived in Minnesota. He and his family expected to be living in a communal shelter, so they were pleasantly surprised to be offered an apartment where each of them had their own bedroom. Thushanth quickly got a job working overnight baking bread at a bakery. He then switched to working at the United States Postal Service and earns a greater income. Each of his family members also pursued career opportunities: Dunicka, his sister, entered a nursing program at a local college, his mother, Santhakumari, is a teaching assistant at a Montessori school, and his father, Mohanantham, is a butcher.
They had spent 12 years as refugees in Malaysia, whose government did not allow them to stay permanently. While in Malaysia, they could not work or go to regular school. When they heard friends were being sent to places like Canada and Australia, they contacted the United Nations’ agency that helps resettle refugees to a third country (UNHCR).
We were amazed at how helpful everyone is, and how we have learned so much.
Not knowing where they might end up, they were pleased to be sent to New York. The children knew English from their previous schooling, so their parents learned the language by taking ESL classes in New York. After hearing that some friends from Sri Lanka had settled in Minnesota, the family made a plan to make Minnesota their permanent home, and sought assistance from Arrive Ministries.
When asked what surprised his family about America, Thushanth said, “We were amazed at how helpful everyone is, and how we have learned so much. I am also surprised they we have not personally experienced any racism.”
It was so wonderful to see this beaming couple who just got their citizenship and were bubbling over with joy as they shared with our staff that they had just bought a new house, too!
While it took five years for his parents and sister to get their U.S. citizenship, Thushanth said the process was not too difficult. To celebrate this great accomplishment, the family brought food to the Arrive Ministries office as a thank you for the assistance they received in finding housing, jobs and completing the necessary paperwork to apply for their citizenship. In the past six months, the family achieved another one of their top goals; they bought a house!
“It was so wonderful to see this beaming couple who just got their citizenship and were bubbling over with joy as they shared with our staff that they had just bought a new house, too!” said Tracy, Arrive Ministries Immigration Assistant.
We are blessed! Others can build a life here by simply being patient and working hard.
When asked what message he would like to send to others, Thushanth quickly replied “We are blessed! Others can build a life here by simply being patient and working hard.”
Written by Karen Kitchel, an Arrive Ministries media volunteer