While there has not been a “typical day,’ the majority of my work thus far has revolved around advocacy/policy research and setting up utilities/searching for housing for clients. Last week however the staff member who typically sets up the homes for arriving refugees was on vacation, this gave me the opportunity to help ‘prep’ a house for an incoming Somali family. At the office there is a constant stream of refugee clients throughout the day, but when prepping the house I was involved in an immeadite and essential part of a refugees resettlement.
Firstly I went to an ethnic grocery store in Rogers Park (the northernmost neighborhood of Chicag where many of our clients live.) There I followed a shopping list crafted for Somali families as well as picked up a halal meal consisting of rice and chicken. The U.S. government actually requires all resettlement agencies to provide a hot meal for refugees. The main goal is to make a person or family as comfortable as possible. Because refugees often fly the cheapest possible routes, the flights can take days to reach Chicago. Extremely tired and often overwhelmed, familiar foods and a hot meal are an important first step.
My day came to a culmination when I delivered the food to their new home. Although wiped out from the trip and a clear language barrier the relief and excitement was evident in their faces.