Daoud H.Tchari, 46, has been in this country since 1998. But it has only been within the past few years he has been able to become a U.S. citizen.
A native of Chad, Tchari first came to the country on a visitor visa in 1998. Then he met and fell in love with an American woman. The couple married in 2001. At that time he went to an immigration office to apply for a Green Card so he could go to university. The only problem was he had lost his passport and when a worker ran his name through the system he didn’t show up.
So began a six-year struggle with Immigration to get the department to recognize his status. It was lawyer after lawyer and application after application,he said. He was finally able to straighten out the mess when it was discovered his name had been reversed by an immigration official when he entered the country. Chad is a French country and the names on passports are in a different order than they are in the United States. That's why every time they searched his name in the system they didn't find him, he said. Finally an employee who was experienced with this type of problem checked. Sure enough there he was, and within three weeks he had his Green Card.
But shortly afterward his marriage fell apart and he was told he would have to wait another five years to take the citizenship test because he was no longer married to U.S. citizen.
In 1998 after he had received his documentation he went back to Chad to visit with his family. While he was there he spent some time with the United Nations aid workers and observed what a struggle it was for people to communicate.
Tchari said the U.N. had sent over Americans who could not speak the language and whenever they wanted to handle a crisis situation they had to wait for an interpreter to show up. Already fluent in three languages Tchari told the workers he would like to work for them and wanted to know what sort of degree he would need to be hired by the U.N. They told him to get a degree in sociology and several certificates including peace studies and conflict resolution. He took their advice and came back to attend IPFW, where he earned a degree in sociology and the essential certificates. He recently applied to the U.N. and is waiting to find out if he has been hired.
In the meantime, he works part time for Crime Victim Care of Allen County, a nonprofit that helps immigrants and refugees who have been victims of crime. Tchari said becoming a U.S. citizen has enabled him to get the education he needed to help others in crisis.