As a nurse, Jessi has always felt a tug on her heartstrings for the immigrant population in St. Cloud. When Jessi was introduced to Safa, a Somali single mother newly resettled in St. Cloud through Arrive Ministries, Jessi realized that pull was divine.
“It was an incredible revelation that Safa wants to go to school to be a nurse and I am a nurse. That was God’s divine placement,” said Jessi.
Safa felt a kinship with Jessi during their first meeting as well.
“I thought I met a good person. At that time I was new to the country and she gave me attention, helped me, and answered questions. I had confidence it would be a great friendship,” said Safa.
While living as a displaced person in Egypt, Safa had worked as an emergency medical technician in a medical clinic. Currently, she works at Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Plant and her employer has taken notice of her hard work ethic and promoted her to a lead role with a substantial raise.
She will say in her English, ‘I am a strong woman, a strong mom,’ and she really is, she’s incredible.
“She will say in her English, ‘I am a strong woman, a strong mom,’ and she really is, she’s incredible. It’s that survival mentality that has gotten her to where she is,” said Jessi.
As a new immigrant working an overnight shift, she is also learning English, practicing to get a driver’s license, and raising her 9-year-old daughter, Mariam.
“Mariam is very smart. After one year in our schools, she is on track with reading, writing and speaking English. She gets no special assistance in school,” said Jessi.
Mariam and Safa love to spend time with Jessi’s family at Jessi’s home, even if they are squeamish about the family’s indoor house pets.
“Safa was shocked to find out we had rodents (guinea pigs) in our house. ‘Are you kidding me? It’s like a rat?’ she exclaimed! Then she took videos and posted them to snap chat,” said Jessi.
It’s that openness to being exposed to new cultural norms that makes Safa such a brave new neighbor and friend.
What I most like about my friendship with Jessi is that she always checks-in to see how I am doing.
“What I most like about my friendship with Jessi is that she always communicates with me and checks-in to see how I am doing. We visit each other’s homes, meet for coffee, and our kids play,” said Safa.
Safa plans to go to nursing school in Minnesota once her English is more proficient, and Jessi has no doubt that someday soon Safa will make her dream a reality.
“She motivates me,” said Jessi. “After one year she is conversational in English. She is really encouraged by her opportunities here and she doesn’t want to let them pass her by.”
I have been incredibly blessed by the Good Neighbor program; I have been blessed more by it than I have given.
Jessi now realizes the initial heart pull she felt at the start of this relationship, would lead to her receiving a blessing, more than offering one.
“I have been incredibly blessed by the Good Neighbor program; I have been blessed more by it than I have given. Safa and Mariam are dear to my heart,” said Jessi.