Building the American Dream: Karim and Naima’s story
Leaving home for a better life
As a young child in Algeria, Karim had many hopes and dreams for his future. He wanted to go to college, have a good job and start his own family. But as he got older, he realized there were many difficulties in his home country.
“If you wanted to do something to get your life better, it’s not easy. There’s not much support or opportunity,” Karim explained.
He started college in Algeria and got married, but he and his wife, Naima, soon understood that if they wanted to truly have the best life for themselves and their future children, they would need to move away from the country they always called home.
“Honestly, we did not want to move for ourselves; we wanted to move to give our future kids the best opportunities they could have,” he said.
So he and his wife began putting their names in for the VISA lottery program to be relocated. “Every year in October you can apply. I applied three times, and on the fourth time, in 2012, my wife and I were selected,” he shared with a smile on his face.
Making ends meet in Pittsburgh
After being chosen, Karim and Naima were placed in Pittsburgh, moving into their new apartment in the Prospect Park neighborhood in Whitehall Borough. Once settled, things were tough, as neither of them spoke much English and the processes and cultural differences were significant. Eventually, Naima secured employment, but Karim struggled to find a stable job.
“My friend told me about SHIM. We lived right down the street, so I decided to go see,” Karim said. “I found there were so many ways they could help.”
Karim signed up for an English as a Second Language (ESL) course; the family enrolled in food pantry services; and he received support with different paperwork and processes he needed to complete. When he and his wife decided to start growing their family, they found SHIM was a life-line to other helpful resources and assistance.
Learning new skills with SHIM
After just giving birth to their third child earlier this year, a little boy now five-months-old, Karim decided to sign up for SHIM’s Nurturing Parenting Class at the SHIM Family Center. “I learned so many different things that have helped us at home. We learned about time-out, and ways to stay on routine and schedule. I would take the lessons home and share them with my wife, and we’d work together,” Karim explained.
Karim, one of the only fathers in the class, brought his two-year-old daughter with him. He felt the experience was so beneficial that he’s hoping to sign up again next year and continue learning different ways to improve his parenting skills and their home life.
A thriving, happy family
Now, Karim has steady employment, they no longer rely on SHIM’s food pantry, and they saved up enough to buy their own home in Brentwood. Their five-year-old son recently started kindergarten and is thriving.
“All of our kids are doing so well. I want my kids to be whatever they want to be. I want to support them, and I know they have so many more opportunities here that they would not have had if we stayed in Algeria,” Karim continued. “We are so thankful.”
Karim feels grateful for SHIM’s involvement in his family’s well-being and hopes more people learn about SHIM who might be in need of support. “SHIM has been so helpful to me and my family. I want to show other people that they can come here to learn,” he said.