Refugee Stories

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The journey for refugees from their home countries to Pittsburgh often takes years and includes lots of stops along the way. As part of WESA’s five-part series sharing the stories of young refugees, native Iraqi Maryam Nader, 15, talks about her desire to continue her travels and experience other cultures.

Nader is from Iraq, but she’s Kurdish, not Arabic.

“I don’t think anybody knows what are Kurdish,” said Nader. “They just assume they’re the same thing as Turkish, but they’re not. Kurdish have a different language and kind of a different culture.”

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Young refugees have to adapt quickly once they arrive in Pittsburgh. Although they often come from difficult circumstances, many are able to learn English and make friends quickly. As part of a five-part series from WESA, four young people from Iraq, Tanzania and Congo share their stories of transition.

Hussein Zangana, 15, now lives in Brookline. He said it’s very different from Iraq, where fighting forced his family to flee. “Something is wrong,” he said.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Some young refugees in Pittsburgh resettled in the city when they were infants and have lived here most of their lives. Others arrived earlier this year. 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

As part of a five-part series exploring the experiences of young refugees in Pittsburgh, Hamadi Hamadi, 15, shares the story of his life back in Kenya and the journey that brought his family to America. 

“Kenya when I was there, my family was poor,” he said. “We had a farm over there. My dad, he used to work in the farm, and he used to call us, me and my brother, to go over there to work.”

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world because of conflict. More than a half-million people have fled the violence. Some of those refugees, including children, have resettled in Pittsburgh.