Dear friends, today I was laid off. For nearly seven years I have worked both domestically and internationally to resettle refugees to the United States. Most recently I have been working with the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) and United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to interview refugee children without parents for submission to the United States either to be reunified with a parent, to live with a relative who cares for them, or to help them access services or foster care in the country of asylum (Tanzania and Kenya) or the US. I have always worked hard, with integrity and passion. It was a unique position and definitely my dream job: it paid well, offered adventure and had real purpose…and I was really good at it.
I was laid off as an immediate result of the executive order “protecting the nation from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals” which has capped the ceiling of refugees arriving to the country at half of last years levels, thus determining my position as an excess. And I’m not alone. Nearly 400 of my colleagues at this office have all lost their jobs today…and I can’t imagine how many other folks around the world and the US will similarly lose their jobs— that’s not even to mention the 50,000 + refugee people and loved ones who we served that won’t be resettled or reunited this year. The world is changing–right in front of my eyes–and it’s changing me. If you have a tender heart and want to do something that shows your support for me, please consider doing one or some of the following:
1) make a charitable donation to one of the agencies that provides resettlement services in the United States to the children I have interviewed. (go to the site of the office in your city and donate directly to that office!)
2) Read the book “What is the What” by Dave Eggers.
3) Watch the documentary “Virunga” (which is meant to be a documentary about gorillas, but in the middle of filming, war broke out) or the movie “Beasts of No Nation”. When you see what people endure in countries you have never visited, you will understand me better because these are the places and visions that fill my head now as these represent real tragedies I hear about from surviving children on a daily basis.
4) Have courage and commit to learning another language such as Arabic, Swahili, Somali, French or Spanish and find a place in your community where you can practice. Take a trip to a non-european country to learn about how the rest of the world lives and breathes. Be willing to challenge yourself.
By Christy Danahey