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Refugee hiring fair provides a pathway for financial stability

With a gallon of gas and rent nearing all-time highs in San Diego, basic necessities are becoming harder to afford.

“It's super hard and yea, right now I'm struggling. But at least I'm happy and lucky to be here,” Afghan refugee Abdullah Ravish said.

He’s a former diplomat in Afghanistan who arrived in the U.S. six months ago with his wife and son.

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Their family is paying $2,300 a month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Mira Mesa. On Friday, he and his wife were at a job fair in El Cajon.

“I do believe that I will find the job that I want. And I should be surviving,” Ravish said.

Currently he’s working night shifts at the front desk of a hotel, but he’s aiming to find a daytime office job that better suits his strengths and financial goals.

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Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Refugees look at different job booths during a hiring fair in El Cajon, Sept. 30, 2022.

The two-day event is hosted by the nonprofit organization Welcome.Usand it’s specifically catered towards immigrants from Ravish's homeland and Ukraine.

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Lana Tykhonchuk and her family recently arrived from Ukraine. She’s been living with her husband and daughter at a host family’s house in Poway for the past three months.

“We fled from invasion … so we came here for a better life and to find some opportunities. We came with our family and now we are looking for a job because we got our work authorization,” Tykhonchuk told KPBS. “And we want to live with our own place, so that is our goal.”

Even with minimum wage going up to $16.30 in the new year for the city of San Diego, making enough money to cover daily expenses is tough for many of the immigrants at the job fair.

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Jacob Aere
/
KPBS
Refugees speak to volunteers and employees at different job booths during a hiring fair in El Cajon, Sept. 30, 2022.

Malaak Malikyar Sills is the senior director of partnerships and engagement with Welcome.Us and an Afghan refugee herself. She said her organization is offering positions with pathways for growth.

“Because right now some of the newcomers are working two jobs, two-plus jobs, in order to be able to afford the cost of living here. And we want to put them on a pathway to self-sufficiency,” Malikyar Sills said.

The job fair is the fourth of its kind in the nation and looks to connect people to a wide range of careers.

The hiring fair will also run this Saturday at Courtyard by Marriott San Diego from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Interviews are often conducted on the spot with many attendees hoping to secure a job, and financial stability, during these expensive times.

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