I have read the newspaper for as long as I can remember, but I recall how reading about the war in Darfur in the seventh grade made me feel something more for the first time.
I felt this unquenchable compulsion to learn as much as possible, read every article and seek further analysis about this region in western Sudan. It was my youthful conviction that, if we could just understand this horrendous human failing, we could end it and prevent it from ever happening again.
I have worked with immigrants and refugees in some form or fashion for nearly 10 years now, and currently serve as the assistant director for Migration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities.
When I ask myself how I came to work for and with this population — where that calling took root for me — I trace the thread back to my middle school days of reading the newspaper.
Has the news ever left you with strong feelings? I want you to know that whether watching or reading the news leaves you feeling helpless, angry or anxious, there are concrete, accessible ways you can change the story for the better right in your backyard.
For example, you may have seen coverage of Haitian migrants crossing the border into Texas. When Haitians arrive in Louisville, we prepare them to succeed in their new life by providing English classes and cultural orientation supported by volunteers.
Our Cuban clients, also fleeing harsh conditions at home, receive expert case management services and access to essential toiletries gathered by students in local Catholic schools.
Our Congolese neighbors leave the refugee camp and arrive in Louisville to apartments stocked with all the household essentials, including furniture and home goods that have been donated by supporters from the community.
When the news broke of the fall of Kabul in Afghanistan, Louisvillians from all walks of life sprang into action. Our phones at Catholic Charities rang off the hook for weeks. Landlords offered their homes. Churches rallied sponsorship teams. Professionals volunteered their talents. Now, as the first of many Afghan families begin to arrive in Louisville for the next chapter of their journey, they will feel welcomed and wanted in their new home.
That is what I find most rewarding about working in immigration and refugee resettlement: the opportunity to make a measurable impact on people affected by global atrocities and systems of oppression.
The last two years have been overwhelming across the whole world. Let’s act together to rewrite the ending for our immigrant and refugee neighbors.
Learn more about volunteering or donating to Catholic Charities of Louisville at cclou.org/engage. Visit cclou.org/afghanistan for more information about our response to the crisis in Afghanistan and how you can contribute to it.
Alison Voit serves as the assistant director for Migration and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities.