Opportunities, Not Obstacles

Note: Client’s name has been changed and a stock photo used to protect his privacy.

Imagine living your whole life without a bed to sleep on. That’s what some of our clients experience as they live in refugee camps waiting to come to the U.S. – clients like Arthur.

Originally from Somalia, Arthur arrived in the U.S. with his mother when he was 21 years old, after spending 20 years in a Rwandan refugee camp where they slept on the floor in a tent. Despite the hardships they had faced, Arthur and his mother remained hopeful for the future.

He arrived with no formal education, but Arthur was excited to attend English as a Second Language classes so he could eventually go to school. Though the only word he spoke in English was “job,” his eyes and smile told us how thankful he was to be here. Through a translator, he said that he was eager to begin working because he wanted to provide for his mother.

With the interpreter’s help, we explained to him that his first few years here were going to be difficult and he needed to be patient. He was going to have to rely on public transportation–confusing to a newcomer with limited English–to get him to and from work at a poultry plant. He would study English in classes provided during his time off and we urged him to attend as many classes as possible.

Arthur listened intently to the translator and then smiled as if he had won the lottery. He nodded, understanding the goals that were laid out in front of him. Where some people might perceive them as obstacles, he saw only opportunities. He explained that his life before arriving in the U.S. had been hell and he refused to fail. Arthur and his mother are determined to overcome the challenges they faced and start their new life.

LSS is accustomed to resettling refugees from many walks of life from around the world. These are individuals whose life experiences run the gamut from college-educated professionals to farmers and laborers. Refugees are fleeing war, persecution, and/or racial or religious injustice. Prior to their entry into the United States, these refugees find asylum and go through the vetting process in refugee camps where the wait can last from months to years–20 years, in the case of Arthur and his mother.

Unfortunately, we cannot control what transpires in these camps. Sadly, some are in deplorable condition. We can only imagine what it must be like to live in such a place, but we can share the experiences we have with the refugees when they arrive here, and the overwhelming gratitude they express to us. It is an honor to help them start a new life.



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