Congolese Resettlement Success in Knoxville

Congo

Photo Credit: Saul Young

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.

Higher has done several post in the past on both Congolese refugees and career mentoring. Explore these topics further and share your success stories with us at information@higheradvantage.org.

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Preparing for the Arrival of Congolese Refugees

The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) are co-leading a work group to help support resettlement programs and communities as they begin receiving more refugees from Congo.  Higher was invited to participate in this work group along with several state coordinators, health officials, and other stakeholders representing both national and international program perspectives.  Its a great opportunity for Higher to lift up employment as a critical component of successful resettlement.

At the work group’s most recent meeting on September 24, representatives from overseas cultural orientation programs commented on how eager most Congolese are to begin working in the U.S.  One representative expressed that employment is the topic that gets the most questions during their 5-day orientation for refugees preparing to travel to the U.S.   Others expressed an interest in hearing from Congolese refugees who are already established in their new communities.

Let us know if you have a success story to share.  Here are two already posted on ORR’s website in case you are looking for some good examples to share with your community.

 

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Microenterprise Program

 

Providing for a Family of Seven

 

In the coming months, Higher will share more  from the work group and welcomes your insights and ideas from the field to share back to the work group as well!

 

 

 

 

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