Refugee advocates in Canada, Australia and elsewhere, eager to help people to safety, often start crowdfunding pages that reveal intimate details of a refugee’s trauma, their real name and contact details. As my involvement with refugee sponsorship has grown significantly, I’ve learned that these well-meaning intentions are not only ineffective for those who want to be privately sponsored, but also harmful.
While each newcomer will bring their own personality and tenacity to the job of settling in, we wanted to share our thoughts on some common experiences of refugee newcomers with special consideration for those who have survived infinite detention.
When I was in detention, I was hopeless and I couldn’t imagine any future for myself. Now that I have returned to work, after 8 years in detention, I am slowly coming back to realising that my body can be strong again, and that if I stay strong and refuse to ever give up, I can build a new life.
In addition to trauma, there are barriers that limit the ability of LGBTQI+ newcomers to belong to a new community. When LGBTQI+ newcomers are caught in between the struggle to belong to a new community and the need to keep connection with or disconnect from their original community, they often tend to slip into isolation….
When signing on as a refugee settlement volunteer, the need for self-care is a critical part of what we do. Without it, we risk not fulfilling our reasons for becoming a refugee sponsor, and not fulfilling our obligation to the refugee newcomer. The challenge is to balance the needs of ourselves and those we are helping, especially when our pitchers are running low.
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