Refugees and asylum seekers often witness torture and murder of their families– like Aime Kalangwa, a 21-year-old refugee from Congo who witnessed the slaughtering of his family when he was 14 and narrowly escaped. He wandered through Uganda for two years before finding a refugee camp where he lived for another three years before being registered as a refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and undergoing comprehensive screening by the U.S. Government. He arrived to the U.S. at 17, knowing little English and having minimal formal education. He was placed with a foster family through USCCB’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program which provides safe housing for unaccompanied children who are refugees, asylees, and victims of trafficking in settings tailored to each child, from small-scale shelters or group homes to foster care families. USCCB works hard to not only to protect them and ensure their rights, but also to help each rebuild their lives and achieve their full potential.
Aime studied every day until midnight, graduated from high school with a 3.8 GPA, and now has a dual degree in political science and criminal justice, mentors at-risk youth, and founded a NGO in Uganda to protect refugee children. He finds strength in his faith, and loves America. For the past two years, he has been a youth delegate to the UNHCR-NGO Consultations in Geneva, serving on panels and providing valuable feedback on how to improve the humanitarian response to identification and protection of other child refugees.
-Kristyn Peck is the Associate Director of Children’s Services for MRS
Cabdi* is from Somalia. He and his family arrived in New York this past summer. Cabdi is fluent in English and worked as a nurse in a medical clinic in the Kenyan refugee camp he and his family lived in prior to resettling in the U.S. Eager to find a job in the U.S., within days of his arrival, Cabdi began volunteering at the Catholic Youth Organization in Syracuse, helping the Refugee Health Coordinator and employment specialists with clients’ job interviews, by working as an interpreter. In the fall, Catholic Charities received a call from Wilson Dental, a local dentist office looking for refugees who spoke English to work in their clinics. Wilson Dental wanted to hire Cabdi as a way to better serve the growing number of refugees utilizing their clinics. Cabdi was a leading candidate of the employment specialists, and after interviewing, he was offered the job of dental assistant. The staff at the dental office helped Cabdi learn to use the bus to get to work, and he has worked at Wilson Dental since. He still comes to CYO on his days off to volunteer, and his family is in school, learning English and integrating into their new home in Syracuse.
⃰Name and picture changed to protect confidentiality.
Pierre* A recent client, is a 21-year old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who had worked as an English teacher with his church prior to his resettlement. Near the end of April 2016, he arrived in Baton Rouge with his mother and two younger siblings. Given his young siblings needs, Pierre knew he must take the necessary steps to support his family. In less than two months, after resettling in Baton Rouge, the employment counselor was able to place him in a full time job at a printing company. Pierre completed cultural orientation and easily learned the bus route to and from work. With work going well at the printing company, Pierre felt confident to help assist others. He helped his siblings improve their English over this past summer and has also helped the Baton Rouge resettlement staff with interpretation. Pierre’s story demonstrates the self-sufficiency and resiliency of many refugees who come the United States, as well as the importance of welcoming communities.
*Name changed to protect identity