From Education To Housing, Organization Smooths Transition For Refugees

Jul 1, 2019

International Rescue Committee Logo
Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSU

For anyone, joining a new community and getting paperwork in order can be difficult, but for someone who doesn’t speak any English it’s more than daunting. The International Rescue Committee hopes to help refugees with resettlement.

In a small office plaza located off of Apalachee Parkway a dozen Congolese refugees, sit in a classroom for a cultural orientation.

“It’s a week long class from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to teach them about integrating into their new communities,” says International Rescue Committee Site Manager, Una Bilic. Since last October, the group has resettled 104 refugees from Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, and Kenya.

Once people have documentation, the group helps them find housing and employment within 6 months of arrival. They also help with enrolling children into schools and adults into English speaking classes at Leon County’s Adult and Community Education School, ACE. 

Nineteen year old Ngena is currently attending English classes at ACE. He and his family arrived in Tallahassee on May 8 after leaving a camp in Tanzania. He didn’t give his last name, but says that the IRC has done a lot of things for him and he couldn’t go to ACE without them.

“I couldn’t get my first job without them. So they’re helping me for many things, I can’t explain, a lot of things,” shared Ngena.

He explained that the organization has helped him with everything since he’s arrived. The International Rescue Committee is planning to launch a youth literacy program this July to help younger immigrants with English. Bilic says the organization is looking for volunteers from the community to be mentors to meet with the kids once a week.