Photo: 200 people attended last night's volunteer training in Minneapolis
Last night IAFR President, Tom Albinson, and former refugee Pastor Gatera, were featured speakers at a volunteer training of our friends at Arrive Ministries, a World Relief affiliated refugee resettlement agency. Around 200 Christians in the Twin Cities came to Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis to learn about refugee life before and after resettlement to the US.
Pastor Gatera was longtime Chairman of United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC), our partner organisation in Kakuma refugee camp in remote northwestern Kenya. He and his family spent 20 years in the camp before being resettled to the Twin Cities last September. [Click here to learn more about IAFR's ministry in Kakuma.]
Pastor Gatera shared how refugees struggle with issues related to security, health, education, employment, food and injustice on a daily basis. He told of how hopelessness and a loss of dignity weigh people down. "Refugees feel as if they are nothing."
He also shared his experience as the US vetted his application for resettlement - a process that took 14 years. He told of refugee expectations of life in their country of resettlement. They expect their dignity to be restored, to live in safety and have access to good healthcare, freedom of movement and acceptance by their new community. They anticipate that hope will be restored. "But what happens when they come here and their hope drops again?"
Upon arriving in the US, Pastor Gatera shared how refugees battle with loneliness, culture shock, and overwhelming paperwork.
He asked the volunteers to not give up on the people they serve, even when it is difficult. He emphasized community and belonging are essential to recovery from forced displacement.