Celebrating World Refugee Day with Upwardly Global

Giving By Robyn Burns June 17, 2024

World Refugee Day is a United Nations observance date to honor and celebrate those who have fled their home countries in search of safety and stability. This special date is near and dear to the Western Union Foundation as it aligns with their mission to be a catalyst for economic opportunity for people who migrate in pursuit of a more prosperous future.

The Western Union Foundation is proud to partner with nonprofit organizations, like Upwardly Global, that support refugees with skill building, workforce inclusion, and employability support so that they can restart their careers and thrive in their new communities. In 2023, Upwardly Global supported nearly 1,200 immigrant and refugee jobseekers as they transitioned out of underemployment into thriving-wage, professional roles.

Vanessa’s Opportunity to Rebuild her Medical Career

Vanessa is originally from Venezuela where she spent over a decade building up her medical career as a doctor specializing in anesthesiology. Her life turned upside down in 2017 when political unrest forced Vanessa and her family to make the difficult decision to flee and seek asylum in the United States. Arriving in New York with only $100 in their pockets and a daughter to support, Vanessa and her husband rented one room in a shared apartment and took whatever odd jobs they could to make ends meet.

Vanessa eventually found her way to Upwardly Global’s Career Coaching Program and began working with a coach who specializes in supporting international medical graduates. Vanessa realized that with her vast experience, she could qualify for anesthesia technician positions without having to repeat her education.

“I wanted to apply for something that allowed me to work in the surgery room,” said Vanessa. “Now, I feel like all my skills that I developed in Venezuela are waking up again. Being in the surgery room is like being at home.”

Just a few months into her new role, Vanessa’s family was able to move out of the shared apartment and into their own place, and she is excited to continue to grow her career in anesthesiology.


Click here to donate to the Western Union Foundation and support more people who cross borders and boundaries in pursuit of a more prosperous future.