40 Stories for 40 Years – Profilee 9
Eqleema is the energetic single mother of five-year-old Loeza. They moved to the U.S. with Eqleema’s brother, Asad, in 2016. As refugees from Afghanistan, they came to create a better life for their family.
While living in Augusta, Eqleema learned English at Adult Education and worked at the Senator Inn. Because she didn’t have a vehicle, Eqleema took a taxi to school and work. It was not easy to balance school, work, and family while adjusting to life in Central Maine. Still, Eqleema and Loeza found joy and support in their new community.
In 2017, Eqleema learned about NVME from a volunteer at the Capital Area New Mainers Project. She came to NVME with a desire to learn about budgeting. With help from NVME staff member, Sherrie Brann, Eqleema created a budget for her family. She also learned about the Family Development Account matched savings program. Eqleema set a goal to save $1,000 in an FDA in 13 months to purchase a car. She met this goal by depositing $77 each month from her earnings at the Senator Inn. Eqleema says, “Once I set that goal, I put that first every paycheck.”
In July 2018, Eqleema joined NVME’s money workshop series at the University of Maine at Augusta. Designed with New Mainers in mind, the workshop supported her in continuing to build her money skills. After completing the class, Eqleema felt prepared to reach her money goals. Soon thereafter, Eqleema completed her FDA savings. As a result, she received a $4,000 match on her savings and was able to buy a 2015 Toyota Corolla.
The impact of this experience has been empowering for Eqleema, who is proud to own her own vehicle. Eqleema’s family now lives in Portland. She is working at McDonald’s, taking citizenship classes, and attending Adult Education. Eqleema still follows a budget and saves for the future, which are skills she developed with NVME. If asked to describe NVME in one word, Eqleema says “helpful.”