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What happens when a refugee arrives in Virginia?

Many stories of refugees begin with a tragedy—what forced them to leave—but we trace their journeys after they arrive.

In this six-part series hosted by Ahmed Badr, we traveled across Virginia to explore the refugee resettlement process through the eyes of those directly experiencing it. We followed along as a family moves into their home for the first time; watch as a high schooler overcomes stage fright; and witness the sacrifices of a chef working to achieve his “American Dream.”

These personal stories are woven together with useful teaching moments about the resettlement process, and each thematic episode aims to bring the listener into the daily lives of refugees as they adjust to life in the United States.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Himalaya, NPR One, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Stitcher.


Regional Edward R. Murrow Award in Podcasting


2nd Place Division A in Podcasting


With the recent events in Afghanistan, resettlement agencies are expecting to see a surge in incoming refugees and SIVs (special immigrant visa holders). Below are local nonprofits and resettlement agencies that will be supporting new arrivals. From housing, to volunteers, to donated items, the below organizations will need community support to address these immediate needs. For more information on the challenges refugees face during the early days of the resettlement process, listen to the Arrivalepisode.

If you are a non-profit in Virginia supporting refugees and would like to be added to this list please contact Angela Massino at [email protected].

  • Our podcast on refugee resettlement wrapped this time last year. We checked back in with Hamidullah Noori, a poet and restaurant-owner, and our host, Ahmed Badr, to hear about the big changes they've experienced during the pandemic.
  • What are those moments when refugees actually feel “resettled?” When are you no longer considered a refugee? Does the United States ever become…home?
  • How do you preserve your culture when integration is a primary focus of resettlement?
  • What is it like to build a career, only to have to start again completely from scratch? It took years, but Dadi Neopaney worked his way back to having a rewarding career in the United States.
  • To be a refugee, you have to have experienced trauma, which deeply affects a person’s health.
  • For many refugee families, one of the primary motivators for moving is to improve their children’s lives through access to education. But once they move to a new country and culture, what does academic success look like?
  • Our first episode follows the LahPai family through the first 90 days of their resettlement in the U.S. Though their arrival was highly anticipated and their IRC staff member worked tirelessly to provide them with a strong foundation, the LahPai family arrived just in time for Thanksgiving ... to a house with no heat.


Ahmed Badr | Host, Producer


Ahmed Badr is a writer, social entrepreneur, poet, and former Iraqi refugee working at the intersection of creativity, displacement, and youth empowerment. On July 25th, 2006, Ahmed's home in Baghdad was bombed by militia troops. He and his family relocated to Syria as refugees before receiving approval to move to the United States. Ahmed’s projects have been featured by NPR (Narratio; Baggage Exhibit; Morning Edition), the World Bank, Juilliard, Buzzfeed, and others.

In 2017, Ahmed worked with the UN Migration Agency (IOM) to launch and host the podcast A Way Home Together. Ahmed is the founder ofNarratio, a platform for youth empowerment publishing artwork from around the globe. In the last three years, Ahmed’s storytelling initiatives have reached over 20 million people across the world. In September of 2018, Ahmed was selected as one of 17 UN Young Leaders by the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth.

Ahmed is the author of the recently released book While the Earth Sleeps We Travel(Andrews McMeel, 2020), a collection of poetry, personal narratives, and art from refugee youth around the world.


Angela Massino | Executive Producer

As the Director of Digital Content at VPM, Angela Massino leads a team of digital producers capturing and sharing the stories of our community. She is a leader within the public media space, presenting on digital engagement initiatives and mentoring station colleagues in PBS’ Digital Immersion Project. Massino pitched Resettled to NPR in 2018 and the podcast was selected for development as part of NPR's Story Lab Workshop.


Gilda Di Carli | Lead Producer

Gilda Di Carli is a trilingual journalist based in New York and is passionate about investigative reporting for audio, particularly focusing on environmental and immigration stories. Her work has been featured on BBC's Business Daily, NPR's Radio Ambulante and The Guardian US. She's contributed as a data researcher for projects at Reuters and The New York Times and helped teach a couple of courses at Columbia’s Journalism school. Gilda is currently wrapping up a fellowship at Type Investigations reporting an environmental justice story that will publish later in 2020. Gilda is Argentine-American and spent a few years reporting in France.


Kelly Hardcastle Jones | Editor

Kelly Hardcastle Jones is an audio producer and editor based in Charlottesville, VA. She and her daughter, June, are the hosts of VPM's podcast Social Distance Assistance. Her freelance work appeared on NPR and the BBC, she was selected for NPR's first Storytelling Lab, and she once won a Third Coast Short Docs prize for a three-minute story about poutine. She edits documentaries from UVA's Race, Religion, and Democracy Lab. She used to be an ethics professor and knows kung fu.


Maria Parazo Rose | Producer

Maria Parazo Rose is a researcher and writer with a passion for longform narratives, data journalism, and podcasts. With a background in environmental science and international development from Vassar College, she is focused on climate migration and the dynamics between rural and urban areas. Prior to living in Pittsburgh, PA, Maria worked in northern Thailand with a local NGO designing programs on child rights, migrant rights, and statelessness. Maria produces Morning Edition with WESA in Pittsburgh and was previously an associate editor with the magazine Postindustrial, where she published a story about a viral video of a young Syrian refugee bullied at school.


Gavin Wright | Project Manager

Gavin Wright is a skilled communicator who has helped bring creative projects to life for more than a decade. He joined VPM in September 2019 to help refine processes to support the organization’s existing content streams, as well as to explore new platforms and distribution opportunities. He has been involved in the development and launch of the Social Distance Assistance and Making Menuhin podcasts, and is assisting with coordination of VPM’s role in the upcoming Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021.

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Music | Sandhill

Sandhill is a beatmaker and producer from Montreal. He is a pioneering figure in Arabic hip-hop.

Additional music from the series comes from Blue Dot Sessions.

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Artwork | Alaa Ali

Alaa Ali designed the website cover art. She is a self-taught Sudanese artist based in Richmond.

Logo design by Abbey Miller

Special Thanks: Catherine Komp, Nate Tobey, Zar Wahidi, Yasmine Jumaa, Leslie Bretz, Louise Keeton, Gabrielle Jones, Saffeya Ahmed, Helen Zein Eddine, Jordy Yager, Nazir Afzali and Saraya Wintersmith.

Thank you to the following organizations: ReEstablish Richmond, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, Narratio, Harrisonburg International Festival, Charlottsville Festival of Cultures, Fire Flour and Fork, WMRA and WTJU.


As part of the project, we visited festivals and held workshops to collect stories of those who were resettled. These “snapshots” share a glimpse into the people and places who make up our community.

The following stories were collected and edited by VPM interns and digital producer Leslie Bretz. Special thanks to the Harrisonburg International Festival, Charlottesville Festival of Cultures, ReEstablish Richmond, Narratio, and WTJU.

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