Last Monday, June 20th was World Refugee Day, an international day to raise awareness of the situation of the 21.3 million refugees in the world today. To recognize the day, the Center for New Americans hosted an open house where former refugees shared their stories of struggle and starting over. Members from LSS and the community came together to listen to and learn from these stories and try food from around the world.
Felix Ngirabakunzi, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told the terrifying tale of the war coming to his village and forcing his family to flee. Through perseverance, hard work and the grace of God, he and his family made it to Uganda where he received help through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees organization.
Community members learn how organizations like LSS help refugees when they arrive. LSS offers case management services, educational services, interpretation services, immigration services and employment services to immigrants and former refugees in the community.
Deborah Deng, from South Sudan, explains the challenges and barriers facing new arrivals in America, like learning a new language, finding employment, and meeting others in the community.
Mohamed Ahmed, from Somalia, describes the difficult conditions of refugee camps in Kenya. Mohamed lived in the Dadaab refugee camp for 24 years before being resettled to Sioux Falls three years ago. Government corruption and food shortages are common circumstances affecting refugees around the world.