Mohammad Soda, of Syria, had an early introduction to hard work. The second oldest of five children, he began making jewelry at the young age of 12 to help support the family.
But life was far from peaceful in their home city of Aleppo. Unrest swept through the nation in 2011, causing civil war, and the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Syrians in just two years. Fearing for their lives, Mohammad’s family fled, stopping first in Letakia, a Syrian port city, to apply for passports to legally immigrate.
Their family was among the first of multitudes of Syrians who would follow in leaving their country, an advantage that allowed them to obtain passports within a couple of short months. Mohammad describes this experience as “lucky”, stating, “Not many people got passports. It was limited.”
The relieved family flew south for Cairo, Egypt, where they were finally free from the horrors of their nation’s civil war. Mohammad, his dad, and older brother took jobs to provide for the family once more, while determining what their future would hold.
Two years passed before they were presented with information to apply for refuge in the United States. His parents saw the opportunity as their best option for long-term security, and so began the painstaking process of paperwork, applications and security checks.
Three long years after arriving in Cairo, and over one year after application, the family was approved and made the long, 12-hour flight into the United States. They settled in Clarkston, Georgia, a town just a few miles outside of Atlanta that has, over the years, transformed into a vibrant and diverse refugee community.
It’s been just seven months, but hearing Mohammad talk, you would never guess that he didn’t speak English prior to coming to the U.S. He attributes this lingual success to his job, which he started not long after his family’s arrival. A new Syrian friend told him about Amplio Recruiting, a staffing business that had helped her and other refugees find work in the area.
Mohammad went, and completed the application and interview process, and was connected with a job at Gourmet Foods International, an Atlanta specialty food company. In the manufacturing department, Mohammad portions and packages cheese for distribution. His older brother also works at Gourmet, and individually they work hard to help contribute to their family’s needs. He says that having a means to provide for his family has made them “happy”, adding that he is grateful to work under an incredible management team.
But his positive outlook and impressive work ethic don’t stop there. In addition to working full-time, Mohammad is going to school to earn his GED—the first stop, he says, on a long road to becoming a doctor.
You won’t find a lot of 18-year olds like Mohammad Soda. He rises early for school, then leaves campus and heads straight to Gourmet to finish out his day. But when asked how he’s enjoying the process, he answers, “When you work hard, you find everything is easy.”
While he says he doesn’t have free time for watching TV, reading books, or other hobbies most teenagers participate in, the one thing he always makes time for is his six-year-old brother. “It makes him happy when I play with him,” He shares.
Mohammad is not only setting an incredible example for his brother, but making work easier and paving the way for other Syrians to work at Gourmet through his ability to translate between co-workers and management.
Orlando Morrow, a supervisor at Gourmet, has been thrilled with the increase in productivity he’s noted since hiring Amplio employees. He’s among several Atlanta businesses experiencing the benefits of hiring from within refugee workforce.
Refugees like Mohammad are proving their talent and grit while disproving many of the preconceived notions some Americans hold regarding their people group. Mohammad, like other Syrians, is acutely aware of the controversy, but responds empathetically to those who are still leery—
“Everyone has to feel that [protective] because they care about their country. Talk to us so you can know we are not dangerous. We came here just for life. To survive.”
His family is among approximately 11 million Syrians, and 65 million total refugees displaced worldwide. Refugees legally settled here in the U.S. come with a lot of experience and are motivated to work hard to provide for their families.
If your business is among many struggling with high turnover and labor shortages, we would love to connect you with employees who will increase both your dependability and efficiency—the refugee workforce.
Give us a call or visit us online to learn about our benefits and services at www.ampliorecruiting.com. Hard-working refugees are standing by, ready to add value to your company today.