Meet the Refugee Inspiring Me to Live Below the Line

By Zhanna Veyts,

I know we haven’t met, but I hope you’ll join me in a campaign to change the world. 

Twenty-five years ago my parents were Jewish refugees and brought me to the U.S. from Ukraine with HIAS’ help. I grew up Americanized, doing exactly the kinds of things my parents dreamed for me—attending a Jewish school and summer camp, graduating from university, and blazing my unique life path. Last year I came to work for HIAS and, on my first trip to the field, met Aisha in a refugee camp in Eastern Chad. Aisha and I are the same age, we both are religious minorities, and we could have had similar lives. But we don’t.

Aisha is from Darfur and narrowly escaped a harrowing fate when the Janjaweed militia invaded her village. Nearly a decade later, Aisha struggles with extreme poverty and must rely on HIAS for basic subsistence. Yet she talks about her limitless dreams for her newborn son. She is my driving force to Live Below the Line.

From April 28 to May 2, I will join thousands of people across the U.S. who will live on $1.50 a day for five days to raise awareness of the extreme poverty that Aisha and 15 million refugees face each and every day, and to raise funds for HIAS so that we can continue to assist them. As a refugee brought over by HIAS, and as someone who has met many refugees like Aisha firsthand, I know just how hard their struggle really is.

I invite you to join HIAS and me and help spread the word about this exciting movement. Together, we can go Below the Line so refugees can rise above it.

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