CST Client Story & Rola’s Story

Creating Hope

YOU Make it Possible for Those in Need to Find Refuge

After years of war and suffering, refugees and asylum seekers are forced to flee their homes and countries, often at a moment’s notice, in order to save their lives.  For those refugees that make their way to the Bay Area, many seek help at AACI’s Center for Survivors of Torture (CST).


Rola Cheikh, who was featured in our previous edition, is a case worker for CST.  In addition to her work at AACI CST, Rola is an active member of and dedicated volunteer at the Arab American Cultural Center of Silicon Valley. “I realized that our Arab clients at AACI also needed a place to socialize, not just receive services, but be human and have a community,” she said.  Although Rola helps refugees to deal with hardships every day, she also knows firsthand the positive ripple effect a smile, a kind word and hope can bring to the people CST serves.  “Sometimes it just takes a gesture of friendship to help lift a spirit,” she said.


Recalling some of her most memorable clients, Rola thinks of one in particular. A refugee from Iraq, fleeing war and atrocity, waited 10 years in Turkey for her husband to reunite with her. He never did and she had to accept that he had most likely been captured and killed. She eventually came to the U.S. by herself, but battered by fear, loneliness and despair, she held little hope for a brighter future.


Rola remembers that this woman, her face cloaked in sadness, seemed to still be waiting for a life that was in her past. Rola’s goal with this client, at each meeting, was to coax a smile or a giggle. And one time, when it happened, the client said, “My day will be a little bit better.”


“That’s so meaningful to me,” said Rola. “To share just a moment of friendship and have hope that we can string together more moments like that, that’s the dream.”

“Sometimes it just takes a gesture of friendship to help lift a spirit.”

There are dozens of refugees in our Center for Survivors of Torture right now.  Hundreds more need help too.  Your donation will not only provide relief, it will create hope for the future.