Acclimating to a new country is a daunting prospect for anyone. When I was an expat in Belgium, all the new languages, cultural norms, landscapes, processes etc. were both exciting and frustrating – “What do you mean I have to come back 3 more times to get my driver’s license?!”, “Why are the driver’s licenses paper?”, “Why are you rolling your eyes when I ask for ketchup with my fries?”, or “No. I am not an ugly American for liking Velveeta.”
Now imagine you’re a refugee, who may have fled from genocide, persecution, starvation; who may be riddled with guilt or worry for the family and friends they left behind; who may be fearful of the road ahead in their new country.
As established members of our communities, unburdened by these weights, we can all lend a helping hand to support refugee families integrate into society and their new, hopeful futures.
Some refugees may come to our country without a firm grasp of the English language. Obviously, this poses many issues, from day to day activities to truly integrating into our society and culture. Isolation due to language barriers also make refugees vulnerable to the criminal element. If you are familiar with their native language, helping refugees strengthen their English skills and integrate into the fiber of our communities will be a godsend.
The intricacies of our United States healthcare system … do you fully understand it? Now put yourself in the shoes of a refugee. Knowing hospital and clinic locations, our 911 system, the difference between the ER and Urgent Care, the concept of insurance, access to resources like Medicaid etc are all practical, vital information to help them access the appropriate healthcare.
Child Care Microenterprise
The Refugee Family Child Care Microenterprise (RFCCMED) program helps recently arrived refugees and other Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) eligible populations start and run family child care businesses in their homes, to earn income that allows them to live independently.
Many refugees come to the U.S. with experience caring for small children. They may also have young children of their own to care for, which makes it difficult for them to work outside of their homes. The Refugee Family Child Care Microenterprise program helps these refugees to use their childcare skills to earn an income. These businesses may also help generate jobs for other refugees.
As simple as applying through services like Glassdoor and Indeed might be for us, our refugee brothers and sisters need to start with the basics. Therefore, offer to help search for appropriate job opportunities, develop resumes and cover letters, conduct mock interviews. It can make all the difference in the world.
Helping people in need integrate into society isn’t easy. Even the simplest tasks may appear tremendously complicated to a refugee. Help lessen their burden. Your kindness, and attempt to aid, will help restore hope and faith in humanity.