Tears stream down Fatima Babiker’s cheeks when she discusses her treacherous life journey from her native Sudan to her move to Egypt as a teenager to a life-changing decision to embrace a decadelong dream of living in the United States.
She’s seen it all. Despair from a divorce that left her a single mother of four, a decade of struggle while waiting for a decision on her visa application, and a violent attack and robbery while on her way to the United Nations.
Once approved through Caritas of Austin’s refugee resettlement program, she arrived nearly four years ago. While she has experienced obvious struggles to keep things afloat, Babiker, 33, retains a warrior’s spirit, especially when it comes to being Mom and the family provider.
Want to turn those tears of sadness into tears of joy? Just mention her four children. They’re her bottomless source of pride, her biggest inspiration and, of course, her biggest responsibility since her husband left her soon after her twins were born seven years ago.
Fatima beamed while describing the four Harris Elementary School students who drive her to strive for a better way of life in a new country full of new challenges.
On 11-year-old daughter Sajeda: "She helps me a lot. Whenever I’m at work, she takes care of the others. She keeps those boys in line. She plays the violin."
On 9-year old son Mosbah: "Of all the kids, he’s probably the most quiet. He always has a soccer ball with him. He loves sports."
On 7-year-old daughter Layal: "She’s a girly girl, and she’s very sassy. She loves dolls and makeup She also plays the violin. The kids have an uncle ... who is a musician in Egypt. He plays the organ."
On 7-year-old son Mohammed: "He’s very fun. He’s always dancing around the house. He keeps everybody laughing. He loves science projects."
Babiker has a new lease on life in America because she is now working normal hours for a house cleaning service as opposed to the seven-day, 12-hour shifts she once worked at a beauty salon in Cairo.
Still, she’s struggling to make ends meet on a single income. More challenges have come her way. She needs to move the family out of their apartment before Christmas because the landlord doesn’t want five people living in a two-bedroom unit.
She has found a new apartment, but she will move in with very little. The furnishings in the living and dining area are old. There isn’t a bed in the children's room, just one small mattress shared by two of the children. The other two sleep with their mother.
Babiker also needs a gently used car. After someone attempted to steal Babiker’s car, it became unreliable. She’s not allowed to carry her cleaning supplies on a city bus because they are hazardous materials. She must rely on rides from friends to get to work. This also makes the kids’ activities hard to manage.
Babiker continues to dream of a better life for herself and her family, and of maybe one day becoming a licensed cosmetologist.
The kids call her Superwoman because she is going all out to give her children a great life in the country she calls the "Land of Dreams."
Caritas of Austin caseworker Julie Burch remembers the first time she met the family three years ago.
"The kids came in from school, and each one came up to her and gave her a big hug," she says. "Each one wanted their moment with Mom. You could tell right away that it’s a very close-knit family."
RELATED: Meet the 12 Season for Caring families