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More Refugee Doctors Settling in Rochester

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Rochester: More Refugee Doctors Settling in Rochester
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Catholic Family Center of Rochester said it has seen a substantial increase recently in a specific type of refugee settling here in the area.

Yadira Llamos is a licensed Cuban psychiatrist, and is also a refugee.

"My salary in Cuba is like $25 a month. You no buy nothing, only food and no more food. This is the problem in Cuba, the situation is bad. You study hard and result is nothing. You never buy a house. You never buy a car. You don't have clothes. You don't have nothing. In Cuba, if you don't have family in another country sending money for you, nothing, you don't have nothing," Llamos said.

The promise of a better life is what gave Llamos the courage to travel hours to the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe, Africa after she was assaulted and her jewelry stolen.

"My daughter and my mother, my daughter is 13 years old. They are my life. I work hard here for my family," Llamos said.

If the Cuban government forces physicians like Llamos to leave their families to do work in another country, while they are there, they can get a visa to come to the U.S. through the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program.

Once Llamos got her visa, she traveled to the Catholic Family Center in Miami and from there to Rochester, it is one of only a handful of cities in the U.S. with Refugee Resettlement Programs.

"It really gives us a chance to bring in these highly educated, wonderful resources for our country to come here, start working and contribute to our society," Immigration Specialist Caylin Gwise said.

When refugees first come to Rochester, Catholic Family Center provides them with a furnished place to live, food, medical assistance and even English classes for up to six months. It also connects them with potential employers.

"We actually have 17 physicians from other countries who are unable to practice at that level in the United States but are able to translate their patient care skills into paraprofessional roles at HCR," Home Care of Rochester Human Resources Director Kimberly Joy said.

"HCR is the best what happen, because it's my first job. It help me for everything. Not only for job, study too. I want to improve my English and maybe get my doctor license again or maybe I study for example, nursing," Llamos said.

Llamos is considered a traitor by her country.

She cannot go to Cuba to see her mother or daughter and they cannot come here to see her for 10 years.

She said she feels sad, guilty and angry at her country, but Llamos is hopeful she made the right decision, and that her daughter, will be able to experience the freedoms Americans enjoy.

"That is my dream, my big dream you know, to see my family right now. I love them so much," Llamos said.

Catholic Family Center's Refugee, Immigration & Language Services
Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

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