When it comes to the long-term integration of refugee families into US communities, the importance of volunteers and mentors cannot be overstated.
While resettlement agencies and employment programs do a great job at providing core services that help refugees become self-sufficient in the most basic sense, it can be difficult for refugees to know where to go from there.
Ongoing relationships with American families or career mentors can be a significant encouragement to new refugees, helping them feel more connected to their new community and more hopeful about their future.
For a moving example of what this can look like, check out this recent article published in the Knoxville News Sentinel about the relationship between a Congolese refugee family and an American family in Knoxville, TN. The article does a great job at showing the complimentary relationship that can exist between a refugee resettlement agency and local volunteers.
The article also provides helpful background on the history of the Congolese refugee crisis, the trauma that many of these refugees have faced, and the difficulties of family reunification when families are separated.