He survived a car bombing in Iraq six years ago, but became permanently blinded in the incident. He has a wonderful sense of humor and positive outlook on life that continuously attracts people to him. Qusay is a 24-year-old man who Refugee Services of Texas resettled in Austin four months ago.
“I left Iraq,” Qusay says, “Because I felt I had no future there. I felt so sad, because my life was so difficult after the car bombing. When I lost my sight, people started to disrespect me and I no longer felt welcome in my home country.”
When looking back on the path that led him to Austin, Qusay remembers, “When I applied for refugee status in Jordan, UN officials told me that people in America will respect you and take care of you. I was encouraged to come to the US after hearing what the UN officials said, and I felt happy and worried at the same time. I was happy because I was going to a new country, but I was also worried because I didn’t know anybody here or what my future held…I was so happy when they told me I would be going to the US. I told my friends, and they were excited for me as well.”
“My advice to people with disabilities is that they should never stop dreaming. You can do everything you want to do, and your disability should not stop you from living the life you want to pursue. Regardless of your disability, you have to continue to work hard and persevere in life. I hope that people will support individuals with disabilities to continue pursuing their dreams and goals. I believe that with a little help, people with disabilities can perform at their jobs even better than able-bodied people.”
The challenging transition to a new life in a new country was eased with the support of RST staff. “It was difficult for me when I got here because I did not speak English and did not know anyone in Austin except RST employees. I started to feel better each day with the help of RST…[Who] have helped me greatly. I know I would not make it here without their help. They helped me find an apartment, food, furniture, and everything I need. They have also helped me go to ESL classes and visit different doctors. I want to thank RST employees for everything they have done for me.”
As Qusay looks to the future, things feel uncertain, but his positive outlook shines through. “I hope everything will turn out well, yet I still don’t know what’s going to happen and worry sometimes. I’m waiting for certain services to fall in to place, so that is what makes me worry the most. Since everybody’s helping me, however, I believe things will continue to improve…My dream here in the US is to go back to school. I want to become a counselor or psychologist so that I can help people who face difficulties in their own lives.”