Imagine growing up and dreaming about becoming a teacher. As an adult, you are excited to be working with children, watching them learn and grow – and especially excited to be teaching girls. Now imagine that passion coming to an abrupt end with militants knocking at your door and threatening your family – causing so much fear that you decide you must flee the country to survive. That is the story of Elliot; a Nigerian refugee who fled her country and is building a new life in Washington D.C.
Elliot has three children and spent years supporting her family as an English teacher. She took that responsibility very seriously, and it was important to her. “They are my students, and I really have to walk with them so they can succeed.” When her country was invaded by radical militants, they eventually came searching for her at her home, threatening her life and the lives of her children. With the support of a friend in America, Elliot arranged to leave the country and was granted asylum in the United States. She was forced to leave behind her three children -- ages 19, 17, and 13-- with family and friends.
As soon as she was settled safely in the United States, Elliot immediately filed to have her children join her. “I had minimal contact with them and could never guarantee their safety. They were in danger, and I feared for their lives.”
In 2018, Elliot was reunited with her children, and her family moved to an Adams Morgan apartment near Community of Hope’s Marie Reed. This center offers high-quality care for all medical, dental, and emotional wellness healthcare needs – including care coordination for refugees to help them access the healthcare system.
In Nigeria, there is minimal access to healthcare, with no government-run programs, community health centers, or health clinics nearby. If you or your children are very ill, you have to travel a long distance to get to a hospital, which is generally attached to a university. Underlying illnesses are rarely discovered or managed, and acute illnesses like malaria—a top concern for Elliot— can be difficult to treat without sufficient healthcare.
Elliot shared how Community of Hope made access to healthcare easy for herself and her family. Her care coordinator, Lydia, helped her schedule appointments, file paperwork, and stay on track with healthcare. “Now I don’t have to call the doctor, I can just call Lydia. Every aspect is catered for – dental, medical--everything has been taken care of. I get all I need.”
Elliot and her family not only received medical care from Marie Reed; they also regularly got tested and eventually vaccinated against COVID-19 at Community of Hope. Further, when Elliot’s sister moved in with her in March, Elliot called Lydia, who helped her sister establish care with a Nurse Practitioner.
Elliot has changed career paths and is now in the medical field, preparing to pursue her RN degree. She is inspired by the care she receives at Community of Hope. By telling her story, she hopes to show others how valuable this support network is and how lucky people are to have access to care in their communities. Like Elliot with her students, Community of Hope’s staff – from the front desk person to her provider—support her and her family so that they all may succeed.
For more information about how you can support programs like these, please visit https://www.communityofhopedc.org/donate.