Cultivating the American Dream
Most summer mornings, Amlesu Tilahun is hard at work, watering and tending to her vegetable garden and the Community P-Patch. Just two years ago, she was homeless and in her dream country, but, she says, with nowhere to turn.
When her son, who helped Amlesu immigrate from Mek’ele, Ethiopia, to Seattle nine years ago, abruptly cut off ties with her, she lost all hope and was brought to Harborview to cope with stress. While she had made it to the United States, she had been abandoned by her own son and his family.
Through the hospital, she found Efrem Seyoum, a citizenship services coordinator at Neighborhood House, whom she credits with changing her life. Efrem was able to find her temporary housing and he worked with Amlesu to find a permanent home, financial assistance, and most importantly, apply for citizenship status.
And just after locating her own apartment in Yesler Terrace with the help of Neighborhood House, Amlesu became an American citizen, her lifelong dream.
“I have survived and am so happy because of Efrem and Neighborhood House,” she says. “I sleep so well now in my own house, knowing I am just as equal to everyone around me.”
Amidst her rows of carrots, peas and tomatoes, she beams with pride, and says her life couldn’t be better.