As a little girl living in Kabul, Afghanistan, Basira Haidari always dreamed of living in the United States. She could never have imagined she would one day not only live in the U.S., but would receive special recognition from the state of California.
Her childhood dream came true at the age of 21 when, together with her husband and small daughter, she came to the U.S. and resettled in Sacramento, California. Basira immediately started helping other refugees with translation, ESL classes, childcare, and many other needs. She and her husband had another child, a son. And, Basira volunteered as a teacher assistant at a local Sacramento school and provided support for other Afghan women.
Her dream, however, soon turned to a nightmare as her husband began a violent cycle of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse that often left her bruised and battered. One day, he smashed her teeth and was sent to jail. While he was eventually released, the cycle of abuse continued daily, escalating to include regular police involvement and more jail time. Basira struggled to protect both of her children. Then, the unthinkable happened: Child Protective Services came to her door with a court order and took her children away.
Basira met regularly with her caseworker, and worked hard to meet all the requirements of the court. Eventually her children came home, and she was able to finalize a divorce from her husband. Basira is so grateful for her affordable apartment at a Jamboree property and the onsite resident services that helped her find a job that, in turn, made it possible to financially provide for herself and her children.
Today, Basira also makes time to connect with the other women residents at Jamboree. “All the women trust me,” Basira said. “And if they need me when they have a problem or they need help, it doesn’t matter if it’s night or day. The goal of my life is to help them, hold their hand, and let them know they’re not alone.”
In February 2019, during Women’s History Month, Basira was recognized by Assemblyman Chris McCarty in the California State Assembly as Woman of the Year for Assembly District 7. In her statement to the Assembly, she summed up her achievement this way: “Sometimes we have to go through some hard things, but they teach us lessons. We either break and stop believing, or we choose to get up and never give up. We have a choice to change things in our life.”