Dr. Malek's Journey

Dr. Dut Malek is a veterinarian who is building a loyal following among pet owners who praise his calm and welcoming manner. He's also a refugee from one of the most violent places on earth.

Dr. Dut Malek in his Branford veterinary office. Photo credit Lena Kovalenko

Dut Malek never wanted to move away from his hometown, let alone his native country of Sudan. But political upheaval and civil war forced him to leave everything behind. He fled to Egypt, where he entered school to study veterinary medicine.

Malek's country was still in turmoil when he graduated. Faced with nowhere to live, he received an offer to resettle in the United States. He and his wife accepted, and they began their journey to a new home, where they were met by the New Haven resettlement agency, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS).

"Of course coming to America, to the first world, is a good thing. Who doesn't want to come to America? The land of freedom. The land of opportunity. So I took that chance. I came here."

Despite the challenges of building a new life in a strange land, Malek succeeded in opening up his own veterinary medicine practice in Branford - Lakes Veterinary Services. There, his clients praise his calm and knowledgeable way with animals. And Malek appreciates his new home.

"Of course, life is different. It's hard to change your ways but I was able to adapt to my new life in America. I'm now an American citizen and so is my wife. The hardest part is to navigate and learn the ropes. The good thing is in America you can maintain your culture and heritage. They encourage that."

IRIS is a national leader in refugee resettlement. During a recent three-year grant for general operating support from The Community Foundation, IRIS safely resettled more than 1,300 refugees, mostly hailing from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, and the Republic of Congo.

To learn more or offer support, please visit the IRIS giveGreater.org® profile.

Did you know?

To encourage early economic self-sufficiency, IRIS's primary strategy is to start the job preparation and search process very soon after the refugee's arrival. Through extensive outreach, IRIS has identified and cultivated a network of receptive employers in Greater New Haven who are eager to hire refugees. In addition, refugees have embraced entrepreneurship and have opened their own food trucks, catering, and maintenance businesses.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.