“One refugee without hope is one too many.” These are the words offered to me as I sat in a living room across from Rehema when I asked him what he would like Americans to know about the refugee process. I had done something unusual. I had reached out to ask Rehema to see if he would be willing to share his story; based on our relationship, he invited me into his home to meet his new wife and to tell his story.
And when I asked Rehema about what he wanted me to share with others, he wanted people to know that no one wants to be a refugee. Some refugees are excited to leave their home country, but many are not. The process is long and arduous; he stressed the difficulties in the refugee process multiple times to me. Additionally, it is not uncommon for a refugee adult to be illiterate in their own language, which adds hurdles to learning a second language here. Trauma, culture shock, and the loss of family due to death or separation all add further challenges to overcome.
Rehema also wanted people to know about his deep love for America. Not long ago I had the privilege to be present when he took his citizenship oath with a group of 60 refugees and immigrants. One of his aunties stood beaming with joy as she, and a small group of friends, watched the ceremony next to me. When I heard the new citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as citizens, it moved me to tears. His love for our country further motivates him to help others in his community with the citizenship process. After he became a citizen, we made a trip to Kansas City to go through citizenship training for those who want to help refugees and immigrants with the process of studying. Rehema has a passion to help make our great country an even better place, and also to enable his community to do likewise.
What I would like our community to know about the refugee process is that my refugee friends continually amaze and humble me with the resilience, perseverance, and grace that they add to our communities. They are thirsty for knowledge. They are thirsty for opportunities to grow. They are thirsty for entrepreneurship. They are not afraid of hard work. They are not afraid to help others. They are not hesitant to offer their heartfelt thanks. They add an unparalleled depth to our communities across the country. I am honored to be considered a friend, and in some cases, part of their families.
Artisan Empowerment Specialist
We are so thrilled be officially launching our pilot of City Preschool on Monday. Thank you for the encouragement and support you have given as we have embarked on this new adventure. We can’t wait to share more as the program progresses. Be on the lookout as our Fall 2024 Application opens up!