During this election season, I have often found myself thinking about Yasmin.
I met Yasmin at one of the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) buildings during our summer meals program. She came to this country from Somalia with her three year old daughter Hani in tow. Before that, she was at a refugee camp in Kenya for many years. That’s where Hani was born. It has not been easy for Yasmin to adjust to a life here in Seattle. But she is grateful for the support she has received from some of her friends, and sometimes from complete strangers. However, what she is most grateful about is the opportunities that Hani has to grow up and be whoever she wants to be.
It has been challenging at times, however, to keep her hopes up. With low-paid unstable jobs, no paid sick leaves, and high cost of childcare, Yasmin is often struggling to keep afloat. Programs like summer meals and free or reduced price meals at schools are very helpful for her to stretch her budget. But funding shortfall and legislative inaction continue to threaten these programs at a time when we need more of them.
Yasmin wants to change the system so that Hani can have all the opportunities that Yasmin didn’t have. Unfortunately she is not a US citizen yet, and has no voice in shaping programs that directly affect her life. She cannot vote, but you and I can. Let us make sure we can amplify the unheard voices.