As hundreds of thousands wait to learn their fate whether or not they will be able to continue living in the United States, some are taking the initiative upon themselves.
Twenty-year-old Anesu Kahari, is a student at Grand Rapids Community College that is protected under DACA and hails from Harare, Zimbabwe.
“I was really young,” Kahari said. “I was about 5-years-old, I moved here with my mom and dad.” Kahari’s parents moved to the United States to pursue nursing careers.
DACA has given Kahari the chance to make a difference and start his own business right out of high school.
“We’re actually partnered with a company,” Kahari said. “The company is basically a vehicle, and we just drive to our destination.”
Many of the privileges that American citizens take for granted have been given to DACA recipients, like Kahari.
“DACA has done a lot,” Kahari said. “I remember when I first started driving, I didn’t really care about a job until I got my car. So I reached that point when I was able to start driving, and I wasn’t able to, that’s not something you realize when you’re younger, but it had just expired and I saw everyone getting cars, everyone getting jobs, driver’s permits. I went to my parents and said, ‘Hey guys, it’s time to get it.’ I had to wait a few months and that was around when Obama took office and then he passed the bill, so I was able to get all of that. I got my driver’s permit and my dad bought a car, then I got a job because, ya’know, you kind of need one.”
The DACA program potentially ending has not phased Kahari, who says he is ready to challenge adversity head-on.
“I’m already doing things now, I don’t believe in waiting. I work with people to secure an income, almost build a safety net in case it does happen. DACA basically gives people the opportunity to make money (through work). Taking away DACA would be taking away money from those people. (The safety net) gives people the opportunity to build a financial fortress that no one can touch, not even the government.”
Kahari said he learned a lot from his parents, who are both nurses, and mainly from his former travel team basketball coach and mentor, James H. Tillman.
“He made such a big impact on my life,” Kahari said. “He told me that what I’m doing, is a story. It’s like a story of a guy standing on a roof and the rivers are rising. Then a boat comes along and told him, ‘Hey hop in, you’re about to drown and the waters are rising,’ the guy is like, ‘No, no I’m waiting for God, just keep going.’ The boat leaves and a helicopter comes along and they say, ‘Hey,’ they drop the line for the guy and say, ‘C’mon,’ and they guy says, ‘No, I’m waiting for God.’ So he dies and when he gets to Heaven he asks God, ‘Why didn’t you save me?’ God replies, ‘Didn’t you see the boat, or the helicopter?’ It’s basically a matter of seeing and taking those opportunities put before us.”
Kahari took the initial news of DACA being cut in a much different light than many of his fellow recipients.
“I sort of took it like ‘dang, I need to do something more for myself,’” Kahari said. “You can’t wait, you can’t put your fate into other people’s hands. It made me feel like, ‘Woah,’ and I need to act more and to help people more, because time is running out. It’s like more of a personal initiative, if we were to take more of a personal initiative earlier before this came into the news, I feel like things would’ve been done sooner. The window expansion was good because it gave people more time to make the best decision for them.”
Kahari mentioned that the biggest difference in African culture from American culture is that it is more family oriented. Whereas in the United States is much more individualistic.
Kahari’s makes the most of the opportunity given to him by DACA to do what he loves.
“I like to travel,” Kahari said. “I like to build organizations on more of a business side. I like to play basketball, but I like to spend most of my time reading- like personal development kind of books.”
While the window for DACA is closing and nearly 800,000 await and they look to find some sort of hope, directly from Zimbabwean origins, “Anesu” directly translates to “God is with us.”