"Sow Reh’s greatest passion is photography – his ultimate dream is to be a videographer and filmmaker. “I want to travel to beautiful places to take pictures and videos”, he said. “I want to make documentaries about people’s lives, particularly the Karenni people.” Sow came to the United States in March 2018 from a Karenni refugee camp in Thailand. This was after three years of working to be approved through the refugee resettlement program. Sow recounts the process in a recent ILCM story.
“The process started with an application”, they said. “If you were accepted, then you were called for an interview with the Thai government. After that, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security interviewed you. If you pass all these interviews, then you were given a medical exam. Throughout the process, there was always a chance that something would not work out and I would have to start all over again. Luckily, I made it through each step. I’m really thankful for this.”
After completing this long process, Sow found out that he was approved to come to the United States. Before he left, there was a week of cultural orientation where he, along with other individuals coming to the U.S learned about the day-to-day life of people in the U.S., the American education system, how to stay safe in emergencies, and what happens if you commit a crime. Then, he was ready. “When I left Thailand, I already knew I was coming to Austin,” he said. He came knowing he had relatives, friends, and Karenni community to look forward to there. “It’s a small town, but there are a lot of great resources,” he said of Austin, and added, “there is community everywhere.” The rest of Sow Reh’s family was able to come to the United States with him, and now they are together in Austin.
Upon arrival, Sow immediately became involved in the community. He takes IT and computer classes at Riverland Community College and is the media manager for a local soccer team. He is enthusiastic about soccer, often traveling to St Paul for Minnesota United games. He also even started a YouTube channel, which highlights his video and music skills. He’s a fan of the team and loves to watch a good game. Sow Reh also volunteers with the Welcome Center in Austin, happily doing photography for events, like Karenni National Day, and whenever he’s needed. He first connected with ILCM through his involvement with the Welcome Center. Currently, Sow and his family are working with and ILCM staff member to adjust their status to that of Lawful Permanent Residents. Sow is very grateful for all the support he’s received so far and is excited for the future in the United States.
“We came here to get an education, to have a better future for us and for our kids and grandkids, and hopefully to use that knowledge to give back to the community both here and back home,” he said. Sow Reh envisions a long future for himself and his family in the United States."