Bethlehem Bidiglen, an Ethiopian native, was forced to flee her home country, after standing up for his beliefs put her husband in danger.
While she doesn’t talk much about her early childhood, Bethlehem shares fondly about her experience in Europe, when she was a teen. She moved to France at the age of 16, and spent next ten years eating and breathing French culture.
After being in a relationship, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first son. Alone and overwhelmed, Bethlehem decided to move back to Ethiopia.
“I was not good to stay with my child alone,” she remembers, painfully, “I was really depressed. [So] I went back home and spent a lot of time with my family.”
Bethlehem moved home, spending her days caring for her new son. But after spending more than ten years in France, she struggled to readjust to a very different country than she left behind.
About this time, she was reunited with a childhood friend and the two began dating. He was a successful pharmacist, who was also very involved and expressive when it came to local politics. Despite Bethlehem’s apathy regarding the subject, the two became married and began building a life together.
“We don’t talk about [politics] at home,” Bethlehem laughs. Then continues on, explaining the day that changed their lives forever.
“My husband was opposed to the [current] government. I remember the last time they came [to our] home. They asked me, ‘Where is he?’”
Knowing her husband’s life was in grave danger, she called him, warning him not to come home. He fled immediately.
“God saved him,” Bethlehem emphasizes, “After that he had contact with his cousin, not me, because [we] were afraid they would search my phone.”
After months on the run, her husband was granted asylum in the United States. Bethlehem and her son followed shortly after, resettling in Atlanta in 2015.
Familiar with Western culture after her time in France, Bethlehem shares that the hardest part of resettling was not her own adjustment, but her son’s.
“He was around five,” she explains. “I chose for him. And when [I saw] it was not comfortable, [I felt] very guilty.”
Despite this challenge, the family began taking steps to reestablish their lives. Her husband started a job at a local store, while Bethlehem got a job at the local farmer’s market. But was soon disturbed by their treatment of immigrants like herself.
“Some cashiers would ask permission to go to the toilet and they wouldn’t allow it,” she shares candidly. “Growing up in Europe, employers were respectful and respected my rights. When I came here, I was shocked.”
Bethlehem left the job and started work as a waitress, but after the birth of a second son, long days on her feet became exceedingly difficult.
“I didn’t know what to do because I was really tired, but my boss was a really good person. I was dishwasher, and had to run the food. After two cesareans, it was hard.” She explains.
“I said, ‘God, I need help. Let me get [another] job.’ Then my neighbor said, ‘Come with me.’”
He took Bethlehem and her husband to Amplio Recruiting, a visit she won’t soon forget. “We opened the door, and there was Chris [Chancey]…He was really welcoming.”
“I told him I was looking for a job and He asked what I did before. I told him I was from France and spoke French and he said, ‘Maybe we need you a little bit. We’re going to sign a contract. That’s how it started!” Bethlehem finishes, smiling happily.
But the Amplio CEO shares another side of the story.
“When Bethlehem came with her husband, after finding out what we were doing, she said, ‘I’ll work for free. I just want to do whatever I can to help the community,’” Chris retells, laughing, “What was I supposed to say to that?”
With her linguistic skills and multicultural background, Chris recognized these assets, and offered her an office position at the company.
Just three weeks into the job, she has already moved from part-time to full-time hours. She spends her days helping Amplio employees and learning the ins and outs of the one-of-a-kind staffing company. “My favorite part is being able to help people. Give them hope,” she shares.
Bethlehem, who speaks French, Amharic, and very good English, adds that she is most proud when she is translating. “When Ethiopian people see me working here they are surprised—they are happy to see me here.”
When asked about her future, she talks of taking “office classes”, or continuing her education as a caregiver. “Who knows about my future. I just love helping people,” she says.
These days, her husband is back in school in hopes of returning to the pharmaceutical field. The family was blessed by the arrival of Bethlehem’s mom, last year, who watches the littlest family member while they work, and their oldest attends school. Together, they spend their weekends going to church, playing together, and watching Ethiopian movies from back home.
“I am really happy,” she shares, grateful for the opportunities she has been given.
Closing, she expresses what she hopes the world will come to understand about the refugee community she has grown to love so much. “We don’t choose to be a refugee. Life made us like this. You could, tomorrow, be a refugee. Who knows? We don’t know about tomorrow.”
In light of life’s curveballs, refugees like Bethlehem have proven themselves resilient, hardworking, hopeful—and a benefit to companies who have recognized and utilized these strengths.
At Amplio, our desire is to connect you with the legal and motivated refugee workforce that will not only meet, but exceed, your employment needs.
Contact us today to learn more about our services and benefits and discover whether Amplio employees might be a good fit for your company. Send us an e-mail, or visit our website at www.ampliorecruiting.com to learn more.