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Affiliate Highlight: Ouranitsa Abbas

Feb 4, 2014

We recently asked program directors to recommend outstanding staff for a series of affiliate highlights and Ouranitsa Abbas was identified for her extraordinary work immediately!

Managing Attorney at Catholic Charities of Baltimore’s Esperanza Center, Adonia Simpson, explains “Ouranitsa is a key member of our team and integral in doing the work we do each day.   Her compassion and dedication amaze me every day.”

We value the commitment to service demonstrated by Ouranitsa and affiliate agencies like Esperanza Center.  Thank you for exemplifying the gospel value of “welcoming the stranger” through your efforts on behalf of immigrants.

Ouranitsa Abbas
Pro Bono CoordinatorEsperanza Center - Catholic Charities of Baltimore

How many years have you spent working in immigration?
I have spent about three and a half years working in the immigration field.

Why do you do this work?
I continue to do this work because I see my own family in the faces of my clients.  I consider it to be a way for me to pay my family “forward,” especially my parents.  Hearing of my clients’ pasts, their present resilience, and their dreams of the future I am humbled to continue this work.

What do you love about your job?
Bringing families together is probably one of my favorite things.  I also enjoy learning more about immigration law and showing others outside our field the powerful stories of immigrants, demonstrating that the world is changed one perspective at a time.

Tell us about a client’s case that has stuck with you over the years.
A woman came into our office and explained timidly that her husband had been raped in jail while waiting to be removed from the United States.  I saw this case from the very first time the client’s wife came to our office seeking help, to welcoming the client himself to our Center, and finally to the completion of a successful U-Visa application, including his wife as a derivative beneficiary.  Again I am reminded of the pull of family and the love that connects us as human beings, despite horrific circumstances.

How do you engage CLINIC?
I frequently use the Toolkits as resources, participate in webinars and in-person trainings, and trust your staff’s guidance.

Any other highlights?
I am the kind of person who believes that, in the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “My life is perfect, even when it’s not.”  I had listened to a talk on immigration back in high school and had considered the whole topic to be confusing and boring.  I never would have imagined developing such a passion for the work I do now.  Every day I learn something new, be it about the finer points of asylee adjustment or how to approach a cranky co-worker, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to share what I know and learn from others.