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Maylary Apolo

Provider, community leader and former refugee

“My name is Maylary Apolo. I was born in Burma/Myanmar. I lived there for 20 years but then had to flee due to the 1988 uprising. We had no other method of transportation but to walk through the jungles. It took more than two months of walking to get to the Karen Revolution. After 10 months there, the Burmese army came and attacked the village. We then moved to a refugee camp -- Mae La -- that opened a resettlement program that allowed us to leave the country. In 2008, I came to the United States with my husband, my five children and the rest of my family.

“I arrived in Minnesota during August, so soon after my kids began going to school and I began working. My first job was at Chik-fil-A. I had no experience on how to make a sandwich; I didn’t even know what any of the ingredients were called – even pickles. I felt very alone and scared when we first came to America.

“I’m now working as a legal assistant for the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, where I help other immigrants obtain U.S. citizenship. When those I help become U.S. citizens and achieve this milestone, I feel very proud and also very successful.

“My advice to other refugees is to never forget where you came from. You should always remember the people back in your home country and try to help them whenever and however you can.”

Photograph of  Maylary  Apolo
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