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New Avivo program for refugees in Minnesota helps the entire family

“Nobody in my family has ever gone to college.” shares Mohamadek. “My sister and I will be going to college this fall.”

Mohamadek, his sister, and his parents arrived in the United States as refugees from Somalia in 2016. In 2019, his family found Avivo when his mother was connected with Avivo’s St. Cloud office for employment assistance. Then, in 2020 their family became the first to enter Avivo’s new Family Coaching Program. The program was started thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Refugee Resettlement Programs Office.

“Avivo helped us a lot,” shares Mohamadek. Mohamadek appreciates the effort that Khalif, his Avivo case manager, made in helping his family. “When I first started working with Khalif, I needed help at school, like supplies. He’s there for me. If I need help with teachers, they talked to them. Anything I need, they are ready to help.”

“Avivo helped us a lot … When I first started working with Khalif, I needed help at school, like supplies. He’s there for me. If I need help with teachers, they talked to them. Anything I need, they are ready to help.”

Program case managers Khalif and Ahmed help families like Mohamadek’s adjust to the American education system. They also assist the parents in finding employment and emphasize that the program exists to help the entire family.

“To be part of a community of new Americans who come into the country with hope, aspirations, and help to adjust into the environment is something amazing,” shares Khalif. “I feel like I am helping, making a difference in the community.”

“A program like this is very essential for newly arrived families,” shares Ahmed. “They will feel cared for, and feel that there are people who are helping them understand their schools and what’s going on with their kids’ education. The Family Coaching Program closes that gap between the teachers and the family, so that we are here to connect them to their school and give them the necessary knowledge on how they can understand the system better.”

Avivo’s Family Coaching Program provides families with many services, such as mentoring services for K-12 and out-of-school youth. Mentoring targets students who are struggling with academics, having difficulties in adjusting socially, and transitioning out of high school.

According to Khalif and Ahmed, an important aspect of the program is that they work with everyone in the family, not just the head of household. They share that they’re always building relationships with the family, schools, organizations and partners.

“Our goal is to move the family to self-sufficiency and a meaningful community connection. That is our main goal. That is why this program is different from any other program,” says Khalif.

“Our goal is to move the family to self-sufficiency and a meaningful community connection. That is our main goal. That is why this program is different from any other program.”

Mohamadek and his sister are proud to be entering college in the fall. They share that the Family Coaching Program didn’t just help them graduate from high school. With  Khalif and Ahmed’s help, they were able to apply (and eventually gain acceptance) to St. Cloud Technical Community College, making them the first-ever to attend college in their family.

“I feel much more confident… This program is going to help new Americans a lot,” shares Mohamadek. “My hope for the future is just to, like, live out my dreams; and to have a family.”

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