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Ice Dream Truck

Posted on August 20th, 2012.

For many of our clients, resettling in the U.S. often translates to completely starting over, regardless of education or age. Muayad and Alomar, a married couple from Iraq, worked hard in their youth to feel secure in their careers as a Civil Engineer and Arabic teacher. After fleeing their home with their 2 daughters they found themselves resettled in San Diego in 2010, reeling from the shock of new surroundings, culture, and ability to make ends meet. Most jarring was just how important English would be to their livelihood. Muayad recounts that in Iraq, learning English in school is common but that no one uses the language much in everyday life.

Determined to sustain themselves outside of public assistance, Muayad found employment on a farm in Fallbrook for 15 hours a week. The work was difficult for a man in his 50s with a background in civil engineering but Muayad relished the opportunity to provide for his family; he gladly harvested crops and performed various manual labor tasks.  This new life was a very different struggle. Striving to make ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck were completely unfamiliar experiences for the couple. Muayad recounts, “it was bad, we weren’t used to that kind of life”.

Dreams of owning a house sprouted as the couple found themselves paying an egregious rent for housing that they would never call home.  The desire for home ownership compelled Muayad to seek out the Individual Development Accounts program at the Alliance for African Assistance; a savings matching program that would help him raise at least $8000 seemed like the perfect fit.  Muayad attended home-buying workshops through AAA and learned about the process and what exactly buying a home in the U.S. entails. After researching, attending classes, and discussing with his boss and the Economic Development Coordinator at AAA, he came to the realization that he would have to find a better job to sustain a mortgage. Muayad understood that home ownership was farther from his reach than he had previously thought. He knew he would not only need to postpone his plans but that generating more income would be paramount to achieving his goal.

Muayad commenced researching the best business models and ideas that would fit under an $8000 limit. Through his findings and friends in his community, he discovered how lucrative owning an ice-cream truck could be.  He learned of the difficulties involved in the start-up process and that it takes time before making large profits; Muayad decided that this was well within his abilities and began saving for a truck.

Muayad toiled at the farm in Fallbrook for 12 months to reach his savings goal. Three months ago, he joyously purchased the truck, license, and all supplies necessary to begin his business. Muayad chose a route that, according to the information he gathered, would be profitable as he is able to drive near schools and parks. Currently, Muayad makes around $1000 a month and knows that with time, experience, and research he can generate $3000 for his family.  He remains hopeful while still recognizing the challenges he faces acclimating: “it’s very difficult for me. Our culture, our country is so different.”

Both Alomar and Muayad are enrolled in community college to work on their English skills. They hope to return to their former professions and ride out the storm of resettlement in an ice cream truck.