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!

 

 

 

 

Friday Feature: War Witch (2013)

War Witch Movie Poster 1Mental and emotional health barriers are among the most difficult to address.  Employment may not address them directly, but they have many impacts on our work.  Close collaboration with resettlement case managers can help you identify work environments that might recreate trauma, alert you to the need for a longer pre-employment period or flexible work schedules to accommodate medical appointments.

War Witch is an award-winning film that portrays some of the traumatic experiences our clients struggle to overcome, through the eyes of an African child soldier and her family.  Although it portrays war in an anonymous Sub-Saharan African country, it was filmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will help you envision the landscape an increasing number of our clients come from.

Although the movie isn’t for the faint hearted (or for family viewing), joyful Afro pop music and belief in the power of mysticism help sustain hope in the movie heroine – and in many of our clients.  They’ll also make you want to dance.  You can easily check out vibrant Congolese music.  Google Papa Wemba for a classic or check out BeatMakingLab in Goma, Congo from PBS Digital Studios.

(Every Friday we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)