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VOA Connect 13 Adjusting as a Refugee


((Banner: Adjusting))
Bill Rogers))

((Camera: Mike Kornely))
((Adapted by:
Brian Allen))

((Map: United States / Pennsylvania / Lancaster))
((Banner: A refugee family newly arrived from Congo attends classes on living in the United States))

((OMAR MOHAMED, CWS STAFFER, RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM)) You cannot give money or tips to police officers or government officials of any type, even as a thank you for assistance. No money, no tips. It’s also illegal to leave a young child, a young child at home alone. So, that is some of the American laws, do you guys have any questions about them? These are some, you’ll learn more at coming orientations.


My name is Sheila Mastropietro, and I am the local office director of Church World Service in Lancaster.
The money we get from the State Department for what we call the Reception and Placement program, the R&P program, is really only enough money to provide 90 days of support and provide basic necessities. So that’s housing, clothing, food, getting a social security card, enroll children in school, enroll parents in ESL, get a medical check, treat all the medical needs, dental, so that’s just the beginning. And then we have eight other programs that are refugee support programs.
So it’s not as if we drop refugees after 90 days, but even the amount of time we work with people, the integration has to keep on going.

((NATS: Hi, how are you? I have a group coming on. So not right now. So we can do it, you can do it when we come back later. And then if you pull it, the bus will stop. This bus is schedules on the weekends, so Saturday and Sunday. All right, so we’re back at the station.))

So, in your schedule book, if it ever says Queen Street station, that means in here. So, you just come and look for your bus number.


My name is Doucks Mbunga Kalamba. I am from Congo. Iam Congolese by nationality. I am a painter and I am 28 years old. I came here 2 years ago. It was a big challenge when I first came because I didn’t meet any African men or anyone to help me, someone who can speak the same language as me so we can help each other. That’s the reason that made me decide to be a volunteer helping newcomers in our city. When I first started doing my job as a painter, I had so many challenges. I had to prove myself to people. Some people never saw black people.


Initially, people are excited to be here and happy. They see all the food that we have. The shelter, it’s theirs, but they immediately start worrying, like ‘How are we going to pay for this?’ After a month or so, they start to think about what they left behind. Trauma comes out really not initially but at the end of the first year maybe, starting to think back on what they fled from and starting to miss their food, their land, their home. That’s one thing that people have to remember, that refugees did not choose to be refugees. It wasn’t as if they heard wonderful things about America and wanted to live here forever and never see their country again. Sometimes that’s difficult for people to understand. They think that people are drawn here and think that we have it good and they want to have a piece of that, but everybody, everybody, all the refugees, they would much rather be living in their home if there weren’t a war there, or if they didn’t have to fear being threatened or hurt or killed.