Aluet Deng and her four girls are grateful. For the first time in years they have a car, and no longer have to fight over a single seat in the family living room. Though their lifestyle is “modest” in the eyes of many, to them it is enough.
Aluet may be soft-spoken, but you can sense her inner strength as she shares her story; strength that has been birthed out of many trials in her 36 years of life.
She was just three years old when civil war ravaged her home country of Sudan. The war, which ended up being responsible for the deaths of roughly two million, forced her family to flee. They resettled in Kakuma, a village just inside the neighboring country of Kenya, leaving behind Aluet’s dad to fight for a better future for Sudan.
“Once a year my dad came to see us,” Aluet shares, “It was very hard.” She catches her breath and continues on. “My dad would bring gold for my mom to sell. We weren’t rich, but we had food and everything we needed.”
But in the blink of an eye, that all changed. Aluet was just ten years old when they got the news that her father had died in war.
“A lot of soldiers died… not only my dad,” she sighs sadly. “He was a good man.”
Unbeknownst to them, his death was just the beginning of a series of misfortunate events that would change their lives forever. Aluet’s mom tried to continue the family business of selling gold, a task made much more difficult without the help of her late husband.
When Aluet became pregnant at 14, she broke the news to her mom, whose response was far less than excitement. “I was the strong helper,” she explains, “My mom didn’t know what to do.”
Feeling left with no choice, Aluet got married to support herself and her unborn child. She hoped, also, that the dowry would help her family get back on their feet.
Her mother’s anger would not be consoled. She abandoned Aluet to return to Sudan, taking along Aluet’s sister, who had become deathly ill. Sudan was war-torn and lacked the basic medical treatment and medicines needed to keep Aluet’s sister alive. She passed away, leaving the family to endure yet another grueling loss.
Adding insult to injury, Aluet’s mom blamed her for her sister’s death, a burden she still carries to this day. “My dad was gone. My mother hated me…[but] my husband was even worse to me,” Aluet shares.
When her husband left to attend school in the United States, Aluet moved in with her brother-in-law and cousin, hoping it would help her provide for her young child. But with minimal resources to divide amongst, they struggled to survive.
“My husband was not sending us enough money for rent and food. We weren’t eating. I was being beaten by my brother-in-law. No one was helping,” she remembers.
Feeling trapped and helpless, Aluet finally met with an agency who helped her relocate to the United States. She arrived in January of 2012, with hopeful ambition to form some semblance of peace in a strange new world to her, North Texas.
Her hope was met with some big challenges. Aluet’s complicated past had left her with just two years of grade school education. She couldn’t read or write; and English was broken. She didn’t have a car, or family nearby to help. But she didn’t let that stop her.
“It was hard,” she admits, “But it was worse there [in Sudan and Kenya].”
Aluet quickly took on a job to make ends meet for herself and her children, but the 12 hour days and nonexistent lunch breaks left her sick and exhausted. Grateful for the paycheck, she never complained, but deep inside she knew there had to be something more. She needed a steady, well-paying job to begin laying a financial foundation; a future for her children.
A trusted friend shared with her about a new Dallas staffing company, helping refugees find work. Together they scheduled a meeting, with Abby Davis, Amplio Dallas Managing Director and recruiter, to see about finding her a job.
Aluet shares candidly about their first meeting–
“I woke up fresh. My heart was pumping. I was feeling like something good was going to happen. [But] when we did the paperwork, I thought what do you think she’s going to be able to give me, [since] I can’t even fill out my paper? But my friend said, ‘She’s going to find you a job.’”
Abby, who Aluet jokingly refers to as “too happy”, did not disappoint. She connected Aluet to a job at the Dallas Athletic Club, where she’s been turning heads ever since. Her job is simple—clear the dining tables and set them up again—but no one does it with more dedication and excellence than Aluet.
“They said, ‘Give me 20 Aluets because she’s the best worker we have!” Abby exclaims proudly of her new friend. The two have formed an endearing relationship, not uncommon among their friendly Texas community.
Aluet praises the Dallas Athletic Club for their beautiful facilities and exceptional leadership which, she says, encourages regular rest breaks. She and her children are happier and healthier than they’ve ever been, and are even using their resources to help other family back home. “I help my sister in Kenya. After I pay my bills I share what’s leftover. It has made me happy.”
Abby and Aluet hope that many more Dallas businesses will soon recognize the benefits of Amplio and begin filling shortages with the talented and dependable refugee workforce.
“To be a refugee is hard. There’s no help. It’s a better place here in the United States. Uganda and Kenya—you cannot even imagine. You have no food, no school, no shoes and no clothes. My country’s life is very hard.”
Join with the Dallas Athletic Club in opening the door of opportunity to refugees and their families to rise above poverty and build a bright future for the Dallas community.
Amplio is the only Dallas staffing company connecting you with the talented and dependable refugee workforce. We take pride in providing top notch employees to companies across the U.S. and London, specializing in construction staffing, manufacturing staffing, and hospitality staffing.