Odyssey Online: Why Working With Refugees Is Incredibly Rewarding

Imagine this: you are lying in your bed, waiting for your mother to finish cooking dinner. The strong and gamey smell of goat stew accompanied by cassava root fills your nostrils, and you relax for a moment, feeling at peace with your surroundings. Immediately the smell begins to fade from something you associate with home and comfort, to something inorganic: burning metal and plastic. Has your mother burned dinner? You leave your room, and your mother tells you that you and your family must flee. Your village is burning. You have no time to grab any of your belongings, only the clothing you are wearing, and enough water for the journey ahead.

 As you and your family flee the only place you have ever called home, the only place you have ever had family and friends, your mind races. “Where will I go now? Who will protect me? Where will I find food, water, and shelter? Why is this happening to my family?” You are unfortunately and officially, now, a refugee. What now?
 Desperately, you want somewhere to feel safe again, somewhere that reminds you of your mother’s traditional cooking. You want to be somewhere that reminds you of the home that you took your first steps in, the home that you had friends’ sleepover in, the home that you celebrated your birthday in every year, and the home that you dreamed in every night.

This is the story of an actual African refugee who escaped violence and war in his home country. He told me that after the initial panic, he and his family fled to Kenya, where he applied for temporary citizenship to live in the United States of America, eventually being relocated permanently here in Lexington, Kentucky. In applying for citizenship, he gained help from the federal government to start his life anew in a place and culture that he would not be familiar with in any way at all. Initially, he told me he had no idea where to start. America was a totally different place than his home, or even Kenya, where he fled to and stayed for some time. It was because of the organization Kentucky Refugee Ministries that he could find assistance in being assimilated into American culture, and could start a new life with his family: a life that was promising and essentially worry-free.

As an intern for Kentucky Refugee Ministries my senior year of my undergraduate career, I have had the pleasure of working with refugees from all around the world, helping them to find a new sense of comfort here in the United States of America. I not only find it rewarding to be able to help others who need assistance in this particular manner, but also rewarding in the sense that I have aided in providing someone a promising future. The office that I have worked in over the course of the year is the employment office. My duties as an intern in this particular field of aid are to help refugees formulate resumes for potential jobs they could apply for here in America. Many of the refugees that I worked with in my early days of interning at KRM did not have resumes or documentation of work from their home countries. By providing them with these services, they were able to begin earning an income for the families that they brought over to the United States with them.

I definitely recommend working with refugees wherever you are located in the United States. Refugees are coming from war-torn countries all over the world, looking for a safe place to live and thrive in. I guarantee in or around the city you are currently living in, there is a center for new refugees where you can volunteer. Having the opportunity to help someone create a new future for their family allowed me to find my passion in immigration law. It has allowed me to have the experience I need to further help immigrants and refugees by practicing immigration law later in life. It is through these experiences that I have grown as an American citizen, a student, a woman, and overall, a compassionate human being.

SOURCE: The Odyssey Online