Although immigrants have a bad reputation in certain parts of the world, some countries welcome them with open arms and hearts. They are more than just people who also deserve a fighting chance, they’re also an example of unyielding courage and strength. Especially when things don’t go according to plan and most of us would give up. For refugee Dyan, that wasn’t an option, and his determination changed his luck for the better.
From Tragedy to Elation
In 2017, a heartwarming YouTube video went viral showing the emotional reaction of refugee Dyan seeing his family for the first time in years. Their backstory was more tragic than most could’ve imagined. Dyan, his wife Alik, and their 2 children left their village in South Sudan after war broke out. They were headed for refugee camps in Africa, waiting to relocate to America when they were separated.
Refugee Separated from Family
Alik was taken away with her 2 children and registered as a single mother. Meanwhile, Dyan was labeled a single man and sent to the bottom of a resettlement list. It’s important to note that not only was Dyan mistakenly put at the bottom of the list, but this particular demographic is rarely accepted for relocation into the United States. Dyan was sent to a refugee camp in Egypt and in the chaos, their only written proof of marriage had been destroyed. Therefore, they would be unable to prove their matrimony or be together. Alik arrived at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, pregnant with their third child and uncertain if she’d ever see her husband again.
Thanks to the help of an agency called Catholic Charities, 4 long years later, the refugee would be reunited with his family and meet his third child for the very first time. Catholic Charities is an organization headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and was founded in 1910. Their mission started as an organization to help bring other charities together and has now grown to provide countless services to those in poverty or facing peril, nationwide. When moms, Molly and Mary Claire volunteered at the organization they were given Alik’s case. The 3 quickly developed an unbreakable bond and the 2 Dallas moms worked tirelessly to reunite Alik and her refugee husband.
Molly and Mary Claire were even present to help the struggling mom through the years of single motherhood, including attending the birth of baby number 3. Despite their efforts 4 years passed and the Dallas moms had done all they could to help their friend find her refugee husband. They’d exhausted every resource including politicians, immigration attorneys, and social workers. Fortunately, after mountains of paperwork, they finally tracked down Dyan. The refugee family would finally be reunited after years apart.
Difficulties of Being a Refugee
Thanks to the astronomical amount of bravery, optimism, and hope is required to leave the only home you’ve ever known, a refugee is seemingly inspirational. Sometimes even uprooting the whole family. Not to mention, knowing nothing about the new country’s language or customs.
Becoming separated from family isn’t the only hurdle a refugee must overcome in order to begin their new life in search of safety and prosperity. We’ve already touched on learning the language but because parents want the best for their kids, refugee parents face an extra hurdle. Most often, they’re unable to help their children with schoolwork, which can sometimes put the child behind.
A refugee may also have difficulty finding a job or housing due to exploitation, discrimination, or unaffordable housing costs. Furthermore, access to certain resources like physical or mental health care, and legal advice. They may also struggle with transportation because it’s costly, and or requires some human interaction, as well as understanding local maps and routes.
Holding onto Hope
Although these are tough hurdles, they can be overcome. There are simple ways for a refugee to integrate into society and their local communities. EventBrite is just one example of the many apps that connect people with similar interests within the same cities. Checking into one of these apps can help a refugee find people with similar interests and even cultural preferences. Ideally, making the process of getting to know your neighbor a little easier.
Volunteering is another option for helping a refugee to engage with their community. It’s not only good for the soul but can help immigrants connect with one another, allowing them to provide a sense of relatability to one another.
Find something to do. It’s important to tackle the necessary steps for completing citizenship such as finishing and filing the paperwork on time. For example, knitting scarves, or making jewelry to sell online. This can help generate a little extra income and keep your mind off the endless waiting for approval of citizenship.
After basically fighting for their lives, a refugee may have a hard time with their mental health. Try to stay positive. It’s cliche and vague but has a powerful message, nonetheless. Staying positive doesn’t mean being in denial of your hardships. Instead, it means to keep hope despite the hardships. Program your thoughts to be confident, kind, and empowering for yourself and others. By being a beam of light and hope for others, you can easily keep up your own morale.
- “How to find Hope when things seem hopeless.” First Things First. Julie Baumgardner. January 6, 2020
- “Family, parenting, PET and lifestyle tips that bring us closer together.” LittleThings. Barbara Diamond. February 28, 2020.
- “Twenty-Five Years Opening Windows of Hope.” FuquaFootnotes
- “7 of the biggest challenges immigrants and refugees face in the US.” Global Citizen. Christina Nuñez. December 12, 2014.