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Alena, Russia

Alena is a small business owner, jewelry designer, and lesbian from Tatarstan, Russia. When she came to the United States in 2009 in search of freedom, openness, and safety, she didn’t have any money, had little education, and did not speak much English; but with Immigration Equality’s help she was granted asylum. After receiving her green card, she started her own jewelry business, which today employs six people and creates jewelry from 100% reclaimed gold. Last summer, Alena became a U.S. citizen. “The day I took my oath, I felt like the heaviest weight was lifted—it felt like freedom.”

Photo credit: Steven Laxton, stevenlaxton.com