Victory Over Violence: InterFaith Works helps refugees fleeing violence

Victory Over Violence

Imagine fleeing your home country to escape the tragedies of war and coming to Central New York to find a better way of life. In this week’s Victory Over Violence, NewsChannel 9’s Jennifer Sanders introduces us to one man who did just that and is now helping other refugees escape violence and build a new life.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Abdul Saboor was born in the 1990s in Afghanistan. Death, destruction and civil war were a way of life for him. He did anything he could to survive.

“I often characterize myself as the child of war, someone who was born in conflict and had seen nothing but conflict,” Saboor said. “You’re in conditions that when you walk out of the house in the morning, you have expectations that you may not return and you might be dead somewhere in the streets and someone is going to pick your body up.”

That’s why after graduating high school, his life took a different turn.

“I joined in working for the United States military as an ally,” Saboor said. “As a result of being an ally to U.S. forces, eventually we were being targeted by the insurgents to prevent us from helping U.S. forces in Afghanistan.”

He was forced to leave his home and everything he’d ever known…just to stay alive. He eventually ended up at InterFaith Works in Syracuse.

“I was grateful for the services, for the amount of resources available for individuals like me to help me establish a system, a path, an opportunity to achieve dreams and goals,” Saboor said.

He got help from The Center for New Americans, an InterFaith program. The center’s director, Olive Sephuma, and her staff help get housing, jobs and emotional support to refugees.

“Many of our clients have had to flee, you’ve dropped everything, often overnight, you leave your family and job and you don’t know where you’re going and its fleeing because your life is in danger,” Sephuma said.

The trauma they face is something many of us may never understand. But resilience and hope become the best tool for survival. This is something Sephuma saw early on in clients like Saboor.

“Extremely talented and an intelligent individual who has been instrumental in the work of our programs and agency who has been so motivated to work hard for himself,” Sephuma said.

Saboor started as a volunteer at InterFaith. Five years later, he completed several degrees, including his Master’s degree, and became an integral part of InterFaith.

“I’m part of the staff and helping other folks navigate through community resources, it’s quite a journey, but I’m pleased and blessed to be here,” Saboor said.

The invisible scars of death and war still exist. But like a phoenix, Saboor rose from the ashes of tragedy, claiming victory over violence and helping others do the same.

Saboor and the staff at InterFaith Works offer several programs and initiatives that address racial and religious divides across Central New York. To find out more, click here.


For more local news, follow Jennifer Sanders on Twitter @JSandersNC9

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