One morning in April of 2015, we had the honor of meeting Selamawit Chale for the first time. She came to our office, broken, hurting, and terrified, but at the same time, her inner strength was palpable. We learned that Selam was once a bright and hopeful young woman, anxious to make a difference in the world and to contribute to her communities; however, traumatic events in her childhood, followed by years of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband had silenced her. She was living in fear for her life as she struggled to survive each day. But looking into her eyes, it was easy to see that, deep down, she was still the same bright, hopeful young woman that she always was, and that woman was ready to be set free. The emotional and physical abuse that Selam had suffered had reached its peak, and Selam had garnered the courage and strength to regain control over her life. One very important step in that process was to secure legal status in the United States so she could escape the abusive control of her husband. Benach Collopy was here to help her with that. Partner Dree Collopy asked Selam, “Are you ready?” to which she bravely replied, “I am ready.”
We moved forward with preparing and filing an I-360 Self-Petition under the Violence Against Women Act and I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Lawful Permanent Resident on Selam’s behalf, based on the years of abuse she had suffered at the hands of her lawful permanent resident husband. Taking her immigration status in her own hands, Selam gained the courage to flee her abuser and to start a new life in safety. With each passing day as her petition and application remained pending, Selam got stronger and regained the parts of herself that she thought were lost. A respected and valued employee of the George Washington University, Selam now coordinates a program that works to develop global leaders who understand the drivers of inequity in populations and who build more equitable health systems and organizations in the United States and globally. She is truly making a difference, and now, she will be able to continue making a difference as a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Congratulations on receiving your green card Selam! You are truly an inspiration, and we were lucky to be a part of your journey.