Stories: Hassan & Minara

The Iconic Wedding
Hassan and Minara had to flee their country to get married

Hassan and Minara’s ceremony had elements of an iconic summer wedding, including beautiful bouquets and perfect weather.
But it was a dream wedding for a different reason. It was finally allowed.
​As religious ethnic minorities in Burma, the couple didn’t have the right to marry. Often described by the United Nations as “the most persecuted minority in the world,” the Rohingya people have long suffered oppression. Denied citizenship, they live in fear of violence and lack basic rights like access to education and the ability to travel freely.
While many Rohingya couples have a cultural ceremony to wed, they have no legal documentation of their love and commitment to one another.
​After years of waiting, Hassan and Minara got word that they were going to be resettled to start a new life in Chicago. Everything about their family’s future changed.
When they arrived at O’Hare International Airport, Hassan, Minara, and their son Anoos were welcomed by a group of co-sponsors from Congregation Beth Shalom. Their RefugeeOne case worker and a group of co-sponsor volunteers showed them to their new apartment, fully stocked with what they’d need to start a life here.
Moving far away and learning a new language and culture are difficult. But with the help of supporters like you, Hassan and Minara were able to start rebuilding their lives right away.
Hassan took English language classes and got employment coaching at RefugeeOne, leading him to accept his first American job just six weeks after he arrived.
Then with a few months’ experience under his belt, he was able to reach out to RefugeeOne to help him apply for and accept a better paying job at O’Hare Airport.
As legal permanent residents of the U.S., Hassan and Minara could be legally wed at last. RefugeeOne staff and co-sponsor volunteers gathered together again, this time for a celebratory ceremony outside the Skokie courthouse.
The ceremony was more than just a formality. Marriage carries with it important privileges for the couple, like new tax benefits, shared legal custody of their children, hospital visitation rights, and more.
U.S.-born citizens often take the many freedoms that come with our nationality for granted. The opportunity to pursue a better life for their family is an incredible gift to Hassan and Minara, and to the many refugees like them who continue to arrive to Chicago each month.

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