Rebuilding in America: Sohaila’s Journey

Giving By Robyn Burns August 15, 2023

Sohaila is a doctor who practiced medicine in Afghanistan until the Taliban took control in 2021, at which time her life changed overnight.


The Western Union Foundation is proud to support Upwardly Global and their efforts to create pathways for Afghan newcomers, like Sohaila, to secure jobs in the U.S. that align with their experience and skill sets. Since August 2021, Upwardly Global has helped connect more than 400 Afghan refugees with jobs in the United States so that they can rebuild their lives after being forcibly displaced for their home country.

Sohaila’s Journey

“When the Taliban took over, we wanted to leave Afghanistan because we are a family of women; 7 sisters, all educated. The Taliban would never allow us to work, and we are the breadwinners for our family. So how would we survive? We dispersed internally to Kabul and stayed awake all night outside the airport. Everyone wanted to leave the country.  Someone called my sister and said a bomb is going to happen, so we left the airport. When we returned home, a bomb blasted and 200 people died. It was right where we had been standing,” Sohaila shares.

Sohaila knew that she needed to leave and was encouraged by her sister to move to the United States. Sohaila was able to safely travel to New Jersey and is grateful to have found an Upwardly Global workshop that helps refugees find ways to transfer their skill sets into careers in the U.S.

“Upwardly Global helped me get interviews for open jobs at New York Presbyterian Hospital.” Today, Sohaila is working towards her master’s degree and doing research in her new role at the hospital.

“If I have opportunity to do my license evaluation, I will. I would love to do surgery again. When I received my first credential upon my graduation, I was dancing. I was so happy,” said Sohaila.

The Western Union Foundation + Upwardly Global

The Western Union Foundation has been partnering with Upwardly Global since 2020 to empower immigrant and refugee job seekers with the 21st century workforce skills training, industry-relevant credentials and certifications, and employer connections to secure their first professional job in the United States. The program we’re currently supporting focuses on workforce training and is projected to support 1,600 job seekers, 30% of whom are Afghan newcomers, like Sohaila.

Through this program, each enrollee completes online training that builds skills and familiarization with the U.S. labor market, covering topics such as resume writing, interviewing, professional networking skills and more.

Western Union Foundation

Impact Report

Read more about the people and programs supported by the Western Union Foundation in their latest Impact Report.