U.S. refugees faced hurdles before the COVID pandemic, and now there are even more challenges.
“Some of our clients come from incredible backgrounds, they have PhDs or were principals of schools, and then have to start their lives completely over. It gives you great perspective. Clients really inspire me,” said Krysti Nellermoe, education program supervisor at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake.
Abderahim Idriss and his family of eight — living in Utah — are one of those families. Before relocating to the U.S., Idriss was a teacher. Now he works on a packing production line but would like to find a job teaching again at some point.
One of the challenges the family faces is digital access. They didn’t have home internet before the pandemic and had to find other ways to get the resources they needed. When school went online in March, the family had a hot spot from school, but it wasn’t enough for all of the students in their household to be able to complete their school at the same time.
Thankfully, IRC was able to help the family get set up with Internet Essentials from Comcast, a low-cost, high-speed internet program for families who qualify for public assistance.
Now we don’t have any problems connecting, and are able to do what we need to do right away,” Idriss said.
The family is grateful to have low-cost home internet so they can save money on their cell phone bill data charges, and still be able to connect with their family in other parts of the world.
It’s been incredible having Comcast as a partner; digital inclusion requires affordable broadband,” said Nellermoe. “We really needed that to support our clients.”
Comcast has connected over 112,000 Utahns to the internet at home through Internet Essentials since launching the program nine years ago; and since COVID-19 has connected thousands more students and families.
Families who are eligible for public assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Housing Assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, and others — like the Idriss family —can sign up for Internet Essentials from Comcast and get high-speed internet for $9.95 a month, as well as computers at a discounted price. Additionally, families who sign up by June 30, 2021 will recieve free Internet service for the first 60 days.