Welcome to New York
Hussain hadn’t celebrated his birthday in five years, so when three Ads-Up volunteers ordered him a birthday pancake from IHOP, the modest gesture made him visibly emotional.
Meet Sarah, and Liz and Jesse, three women in New York who met through Ads-Up when they were matched with with three refugees who had recently been resettled in the city.
Hussain, Rehan, and Shabab, each in their 20s, had landed in New York with barely more than the clothes on their backs. Ads-Up connected them with local Aussies to take them shopping for essentials.
The six first met at the International House of Pancakes, which is when they discovered it was Hussain's birthday. “It was great to have a group of us and we’re all now in touch,” Sarah says.
The men had spent five years stranded in limbo, held in unlawful, prison-like conditions for several of those years.
"I’m 26 but I look 46," one of the men told the Australians when they met. "One day on Manus equals 5 years.”
Sarah says the three of them have been through a lot. “One was on a ship which capsized. They waited in the water for 8 hours and saw fellow passengers drown while waiting for their may day call to be answered,” she says.
For their part, the Aussies were struck by how well the men were adjusting, even after what they’d been through.
"I just keep being surprised how easy it is to get along with them. They’re really easy-going. Easy to chat with. They’re cheeky. They’re big into social media. But the trauma is really clear too," she says.
"I was struck by how much they looked like regular New Yorkers. Not standing out in any way."
Sarah, a tech entrepreneur, invited them to the launch an app for finding friends at festivals, Hot Hot Cold.
“They had a great time at the launch and people were keen to meet them,” she says.
"It’s a stark contrast to a friend of the men who has been sent to a rural area in Washington State on the west coast,” she says. "They are really worried. They say he hears hunters in the local woods and the gun shots are triggering.”
Ads-Up is working to connect refugees like their friend in Washington with Australians across the United States to provide advice and friendship. To join the hundreds of Australians across the USA who form a part of the Ads-Up network, sign up to our mailing list or visit our FAQ section for more information..