Alie Aded

17 Nov

I jump into cabs once in a while and when it’s in the wee hours of the morning (like this morning) I usually want to just sit there and not talk too much.  However when I got into the cab this morning I was greeting with a warm hello and then got into a conversation with Alie, mostly because Alie did not know how to get out of my neighborhood to head to the airport. So as I was helping him navigate we started talking about Chicago’s cold weather and how it’s foreign for both of us, having grown up in warmer climates.  Alie then began to tell me his story.

Alie is Somalian, who lived in Uganda as a refugee for 6 years. Alie was allowed to go to Kampala, the capital of Uganda with a refugee ID and work permit and he worked and lived there with his wife. One day he was told by some UN staff that he had to return to the refugee camp because they were taking him to the United States. Alie and his wife arrived in Syracuse, NY in dead middle of winter. He says that was the coldest winter of his life- he has been living in the States for 9 years now. Alie and his wife moved to Chicago because there were no job opportunities in Syracuse for him. The U.S. government provided subsidies for the first 6 months after they arrived and then he was supposed to be fluent in English and have a good job to pay all his bills and be completely self-sufficient.  He says working as a cab driver is better than some other jobs he has had but it is rough these days. No matter how much or little money he makes a week, he has to pay the cab company owner $575 a week for renting the cab. He says these days, there are many weeks when he doesn’t even make the $575.

The part of his story that really made me sad was the fact that Alie and his wife were hopeful that when they came to the United States, they would be able find a fertility doctor and finally have children.  No one told Alie and his wife that working 16-18 hour days 7 days a week as a cab driver will not get you health insurance thus will never be able to afford a fertility doctor.

He says he’s gone to a few doctors with his wife but after initial checks up, he cannot afford any further follow up appointments so they have given up.

I think it is so sad that someone who has suffered and survived in a war torn homeland and worked his way over to the United States, that the best he can do is drive a cab for 120 some hours a week that may just get him enough money to pay the $575 to rent his cab that he drives and has no health care for his family.

What an irony is that. Alie has gone from living in one of the poorest countries in the world to the richest country in the world and he still faces the same problems. When I hear stories like Alie’s it makes me sad and angry. It makes me sad because it is such a tragic situation, and then it makes me angry that this country cannot do better but waste millions of dollars prioritizing things only rich and powerful people care about and leave people like Alie in hopelessness. Alie isn’t asking for millions, he just want a chance to raise a family.

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