Umar* and his wife and son are citizens of Kyrgyzstan who started living in Ukraine 3 years before the war with Russia began. There, Umar worked as a hairdresser to provide for his family before the invasion started and his business was destroyed. (*names changed for the safety of the family)
From the very beginning of the full-scale invasion, he immediately stood up for the defense of Ukraine. He gathered co-workers and friends to defend the people who stayed in the city. Unfortunately, Umar got featured on TV during that time. As a result, Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the Chechen Republic, a stooge of Putin, declared him as a personal enemy and put a bounty of half a million dollars for his capture. The Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan opened a fabricated criminal case against him for fighting on the side of Ukraine and declared him an internationally wanted man.
The family sought refuge in Europe. But in Poland, they were pursued by Kadyrov’s henchmen. They managed to escape to Turkey. From there, they reached South America and travelled across the continent. When they reached Mexico, the cartel mugged them near the border, leaving them with no possessions except a broken phone. When they crossed the U.S. border into Arizona, immigration officers seized their passports. Now, only their marriage certificate and their son’s birth certificate remained in their hands. For more than a month, the family wandered around southern Arizona and California, living on the streets. Wherever they turned to for help, they were turned away due to their lack of documents.
One day, Voice of Refugees received a call from the city of Orange about Umar and his family. We immediately picked them up and provided food and diapers for the child, and a gift card for basic clothing and hygiene items. We reached out to our partners and donors for support to place them in a temporary dwelling before more permanent housing was identified. Praise God, through your generosity, enough funds were raised to place the family in a motel for 2 weeks.
To date, Umar is still waiting to get a hearing from the court and have his asylum (immigration) application filed. Until he gets his court date set, he will remain with no papers or social security number. At VOR, we are committed to help refugees stabilize and thrive in the United States. We connected Umar to a hairdresser in Corona to generate income for his family. We bought him a bicycle to ride to work. We contacted resettlement agencies to help him with rent and eventually partnered with Catholic Charities who began to provide legal assistance and an additional week of accommodation at the motel. During that week, City Net in Corona offered the family a 90-day stay at a different motel that is closer to Umar’s work. Through this journey, VOR staff and volunteers invited Umar and his family to church many times. Despite the language barrier, they were beyond excited to be part of a community. Umar asked for prayers and, out of his gratitude for the help we provided, he desires to volunteer and help with anything we need. He considers VOR a supportive refuge for him to make it through this resettlement journey.
” I saved 1000 people in one year in the war. 100 thousand people opened their eyes. Gathered 6 thousand fighters. I was able to do it alone. Please help me if it’s not difficult for you.” – Umar
While we don’t know when Umar will get his papers processed, we continue to pray for breakthrough both in his situation and his heart, to know the Lord and give his life to Christ. Your help and support to people like Umar through your prayers and donations is what helps put God’s love into action and transform lives to His glory!