World Refugee Day: Strengthening Communities from Within

On this World Refugee Day, almost 90 million people are forcibly displaced around the world. We spoke with six IsraAID staff members who shared their experiences and hopes for the future. Today, and every day, we acknowledge the strength, resilience, and contribution of our refugee team and community members around the world – from South Sudan to Venezuela to Ukraine. Please share their stories.

Olena Prysiazhniuk

HR, Finance & Operation Officer – IsraAID Moldova – from Ukraine

What gets you up in the morning?

The war taught me that in the most difficult moments, you don’t go looking for the meaning of life, rather you choose to live. Give thanks for each new day, find warmth in your children and loved ones, continue to forge your own path, and be the reason for someone else’s joy. I wake up every day to change the world for the better because the world needs that right now.

Tell us about the community you currently live in and your experience settling in.

I thought Moldova would just be a transit point on our journey. But the Moldovans showed us so much solidarity and support, and I feel so secure and comfortable. For four months now, Moldova has been our new home. We’re happy here. The kids go to the local school and have made many friends. We integrated almost immediately.

We have everything we need: housing, food, clothes, work. It’s given me the opportunity not just to live, but to help my country and my people. I work as a volunteer, implementing social projects and helping displaced Ukrainian find work, so they can start a new life. It’s my mission to continue helping both countries.

What are your hopes for the future, yourself, your family, or your community?

I often think about hope. I know we can survive and rebuild to give our children a future. In my opinion, it is not so important in which country Ukrainians live now, what is important is what they do for Ukraine. We must find the strength in ourselves to continue to live for the future. Is it easy? No. But maybe I’m already doing it. Thousands of Ukrainians are doing it every day. We can too.

 

Churkulisa Molu Adi

Community Outreach Worker – IsraAID Kenya – from Ethiopia

I come from the Oromo Community in Nagelle Borena, Oromia region of Ethiopia,

Tell us about the community you currently live in and your experience settling in.

Settling into Kakuma/Kalobeyei was very challenging at first because of the harsh weather and shortage of water. To cope, I focused on finding work, first with other organizations, and after five years, with IsraAID.

What are your hopes for the future, yourself, your family, or your community?

I hope to progress in my education and continue gaining more knowledge on how to serve the community, myself, and my family.

What gets you up in the morning?

The knowledge that it is a new day and I can help the community, especially the children who are in need of learning materials. I know through my own experiences what it feels like to not have any support in your childhood years.

 

Ana Aura Otero Sánchez

Psychosocial Coordinator – IsraAID Colombia – from Venezuala

I am a 41-year-old Venezuelan and I have lived in Colombia for over 4 years. I live with my 11-year-old son and my father.

Tell us about the community you currently live in and your experience settling in.

I live in a neighborhood called Libano, in the city of Cartagena. When we first got here, I experienced culture shock. The locals had their own fixed perception of Venezuelans, even before the mass arrival of migrants. But, after working in the community to promote coexistence, I see a change. People respect me as an active member of the community and ask for my support.

What are your hopes for the future, yourself, your family, or your community?

On a personal level, I hope I can continue to be a teacher and leave a mark on my students. I want them to come away with a sense of optimism and hope.

For my family, I don’t dwell on the thought of getting our old life back. I’m realistic. But, I would like for the whole family to meet again. I would know to appreciate every moment and not take anything for granted. We Venezuelans are passionate about seeing the good over the bad.

No matter where I go, I hope to continue doing what I’ve been doing for the last 25 years: supporting the well-being of the community and contributing to society as both a community leader and a citizen.

 

Ambrose Simbe David

Community Facilitator – IsraAID Uganda – from South Sudan

I am from South Sudan and came to Uganda as a refugee in January 2017.

What are your hopes for the future, yourself, your family, or your community?

As a refugee, for both myself and my community, I hope for inclusion. Every refugee should have the chance to participate and do whatever they dream. It’s the key to every person realizing their full potential.

Before I left South Sudan, I had planned to get my degree by 2019. Now, the future is getting brighter, I hope to return to my education and study Child Protection.

For my community, the Kakwa Tribe, I hope we will all reunite with our families back in South Sudan.

What does your experience as a refugee bring to your role within the community?

My personal experience helps me better support my colleagues and the community we work with. That’s because I understand the language and the culture.

What gets you up in the morning?

I wake up every day knowing that I am helping the community build resilience. Whether they stay in Uganda or return to South Sudan, they must be able to support and sustain themselves.

 

Elsie del Carmen Ruiz Cárdenas

Psychosocial Manager – IsraAID Colombia – from Venezuela

Tell us about the community you currently live in and your experience settling in.

When I first arrived, I lived in Puerto Colombia with a bi-national family. They were so welcoming, and they supported me as I got to know Colombia.

Now, I live in Soledad, Costa Hermosa. It’s a very dynamic community. Some parts of the culture have been hard for me to get used to. However, after a year and a half here, I have developed a very good relationship with my neighbors. I like it here and everyone treats me well.

What are your hopes for the future, yourself, your family, or your community?

I hope to keep building a better life for my family – both in Colombia and in Venezuela. I want my children to keep studying and working, so that they can reach their goals. Finally, I hope my husband will be able to develop his business here in Colombia.

What gets you up in the morning?

The celebration of life. I’m grateful that each new day brings more clarity. Every day we have the opportunity to learn from each event in our lives, even those that may not seem good at first. My biggest tool is the ability to learn, be grateful, and push forward.

My children lift me up. It helps me to know that they can be young again, without the added burden of extreme challenges. As a result, they have the chance to grow as people and as professionals.

 

Sadiki Chance

Community Outreach Worker – IsraAID Kenya – from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Tell us about yourself and the community you are from and the community you currently live in.

I am Sadiki Chance, born in 1985 in a place called Lemera in Uvira/Sud-Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. I have been in Kakuma Camp, Kenya since June 2010. I came after war erupted in my home country, in which my both my parents died. My community in DRC is called Bafuliru. We are farmers, pastoralists, and hunters.

When I first reached Kakuma, language was a barrier as I didn’t speak Kiswahili or English. I immediately learned English, and I now speak French, Kiswahili, English, and my mother tongue Lingala Kifuliru. The climate is also very different here. It is extremely hot and dusty, however because of the situation in my home country I can not go back.

I came to Kakuma a single man but now I am married with two children.

What are your hopes for the future, yourself, your family, or your community?

My hopes are in God, as the longer I am alive, the brighter my life becomes. My experience working with IsraAID has ignited my passion for supporting the community and now I want to establish my own community-based organization. My lack of academic education affects the opportunities available to me, so I am currently studying for a Diploma in Social Work, which I will finish this year. I hope to then further my education at the degree level.

 

Each of our staff members is essential, bringing their unique experiences to their roles within their community and to IsraAID. Please share their stories.

IsraAID is currently working with refugees, migrants, and internally displaced people in Albania, Colombia, Kenya, Moldova, Romania, South Sudan, and Uganda.