Atlanta is now home to thousands of amazing new Americans who have contributed in incredible ways to their communities. Many of those new Americans have dedicated their lives to helping other refugees find success in their new home. One of those Americans is Obaid Rasoul. Obaid retired in 2016 after spending 33 years helping refugees find employment in Atlanta. He didn’t keep track of every job placement he did over the course of his career, but he estimates he helped over 10,000 refugees find employment in Atlanta.
Obaid and his family were resettled in the United States in 1983. They are originally from Afghanistan but fled to Pakistan to find safety in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Obaid, his wife, 4 year old son and 8 month old daughter spent several years in Pakistan until they were given the opportunity to come to Atlanta through the United States refugee resettlement program. They were resettled by the IRC on April 27, 1983 in Clarkston. Obaid shared that his first apartment was at Willow Branch in Clarkston and his family stayed in the town for 10 years before they moved to purchase their first home. After two months, Obaid’s wife found a job at a childcare center and soon after, Obaid was hired by Lutheran Ministries as a job counselor.
Obaid shared that his job was challenging at first, as employers weren’t always willing to accept the documentation refugees had for work authorization in the 80’s. But he worked through those challenges and is very proud of the employment contacts he’s made that have been sustained for many years. Obaid helped get the first refugees hired at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market, the Marriott Marquis, and at Marshall’s distribution center. Many of the employment relationships he established are still hiring refugees.
When asked what it meant for he and his family to be given an opportunity to come to the United States, Obaid says: “For me and especially my children, it was a really good opportunity. My wife and I worked very hard for not only us, but for our children. I am very proud of them, my daughter now has a master’s degree in business and my son is an environmental specialist.”
Obaid continued to talk about how the refugee program has been good for the United States. When asked why he feels it is so important to continue to welcome refugees, he said. “I believe the American people are people who love humanity. I have seen our country welcome so many people over the years. Refugees share their talents and bring gifts to the United States. They bring vibrancy to their communities. The refugee program has displayed what humanity is and how we can work together as one people.”
Obaid continued. “Some of my favorite memories are in Clarkston. I still consider Clarkston my home city. I lived there for ten years. I still go there often and enjoy spending time in the restaurants and talking to people in Clarkston. I went to Willow Branch the other day and drove by my old apartment. I saw the tree my son used to play around, it’s still there. I find it enjoyable to see people playing and happy with no fear.”
We are immensely grateful to Obaid for both using his gifts and talents in the United States, and for the 33 years he spent working to help other refugees thrive!