The governor’s proposed budget does not create pathways to opportunity for people in Maine.

I am a single mom with three children. My youngest has Down Syndrome. I had to flee my country for fear of our safety. We belong to an ethnic group that is brutally discriminated against in my home country.

The decision to flee was very difficult because I had to leave my husband and my family. I don’t know if I will ever see them again. I came to this great nation lawfully seeking asylum. I believed, and still believe, that the United States stands up for human rights — the right to opportunity and dignity for everyone.

Now, Lewiston is my home city and I am grateful to have a safe place to raise my children.

I received General Assistance to cover the minimum of our needs, temporarily, while I waited the 180 days to get my work permit. GA helped me and my children feel safe, recovering from the suffering of our past.

I am happy to say I can contribute to this great program now that I can work. As a domestic violence advocate with United Somali Women of Maine, I am able to support my family and also help the community that welcomed me.

If General Assistance benefits are interrupted, many mothers and children will be homeless and hungry.

Lawmakers should see General Assistance as a bridge to opportunity and as an investment in the future of this state.

Mouna Ismail, Lewiston

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