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You Turned Sina’s Scars into Stars:  Thank you for building a community of healing for survivors of torture

After an increasing volatile and unsafe political situation came to a head in his native country of Afghanistan, Sina was forced to flee his home with little preparation or money. Sina had no choice but to escape as quickly as possible to the United States as a refugee in 2006, heartbreakingly leaving his wife and three young children behind. All too quickly, Sina found himself alone in a strange new country.

Not speaking any English and being illiterate in his native language, Sina had a hard time adjusting to life in United States. Eventually, he was able to find a job in an auto mechanic shop.  Sina was plagued by the lingering effects of the trauma he had experienced in Afghanistan.  He also badly wanted to see his family again and to bring them safely to the U.S. with him. However, he knew this would not be possible without first obtaining his own U.S. citizenship which seemed like an impossible mountain to climb.  Later referred by a friend to AACI’s Center for Survivors of Torture (CST). Since then, he has been receiving services every week from CST and the health center. CST provides Sina with case management and mental health support: “Here at AACI they help me a lot, they helped me get my passport, and they showed me how to get a doctor.”

When asked about his best memory, Sina replies: “My U.S. citizenship. If AACI hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have gotten it.” 

Last July, Sina went to his USCIS citizenship interview accompanied by Zahra and Natasha, two CST team members. “The process was both exciting and scary. I was scared not to get it, but I knew the CST team was waiting outside of the office for me. It made me feel better,” said Sina. That day, his waiver was accepted and he was approved for naturalization.

Today, Sina is hopeful again. “Now that I am American, everything is going to be better. I am very happy. I like to be happy and feeling like this - I have never been happy before.”

Sina still worries about his wife, two sons and daughter back home, whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years.  “I try to speak to them and think of their safety every single day. America is a very good land. I want my kids to grow up here with me, not in a warzone. I want them to feel safety in a place where nobody will bother them. I want to bring my family here so they can get the same happiness that I have.  I hope CST helps me with that.”

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