Collecting for the Kansas City Congolese Community
Our TSOS team here in Kansas City is small--a two-woman operation at the present. But in the last year, our experience and knowledge about refugees in the KC metro area have rapidly increased. One of the key factors we’ve come to know is that while there is a decent refugee population here, there are very few resources to help. Outside of resettlement agencies who practically disappear after the first 90 days, refugees and newcomers have few options to help guide them through their new lives.
And while our progress feels slow, we’ve gained a great deal of ground in understanding some of the challenges faced by refugees in our area. Language, adequate housing, transportation, basic necessities are all significant barriers to refugees being able to integrate successfully, with Covid adding so much strain to all of these efforts. Our partner organization, KC for Refugees, helps fill those large gaps of integration, in any and every way that they can.
It has felt disingenuous to tell the stories of people while they are deeply struggling to meet their most foundational physiological and safety needs. So, as we seek to tell the stories of these beautiful brothers and sisters, we have found ourselves involved in a small way with facilitating the pieces of the integration part of their story.
In conjunction with our partner, KC for Refugees, we have helped fulfill some basic needs. The organization seeks to have hygiene kits available each month, and through both direct donation and assembly, as well as making this project available more broadly to the KC metro area, we’ve helped them have another avenue to supply refugees with the needed kits. We have also been able to pair willing hands in our neighborhoods and church congregation with individual refugee family needs. Several of these families have received basics like furniture, clothing, diapers, and food with the help of some simple organization and very generous donations from these helper communities.
In February alone, we came together to champion one woman’s efforts with a group of Congolese refugee families. Her French language skills have made her the one American friend these families have. She has faithfully learned to assess the most important needs and has reached out to her neighbors and friends to help her supply the families with clothing, diapers (so many babies), hygiene items, basic food, and even mouse traps. Though she has had help along the way, her stores of goods have rapidly depleted with the last year of Covid.
To aid in this hero’s efforts, an Amazon wishlist was assembled, and helpers came to the rescue! Together with all these beautiful people, the mountain of supplies pictured here was collected to help this local hero in her efforts. It’s truly amazing to see how many hands combined can make such a big difference.
As our little Kansas City team and the beautiful helpers worked together, we have discovered more love for the incredible refugee families than we could ever have anticipated. And with that, a yearning to tell the stories that brought them to our shared Kansas City home. We are so excited to take the next steps, begin the work of storytelling here in Kansas City, and hopefully find ways to fill those gaps to help newcomers here in many more real and meaningful ways.
A teacher in an inner city school describes how her school helps with the integration of students from all over the world.
As we strengthen our relationships with resettlement agencies, friends, and community partners, we are discovering that the work doesn't have to be big to be important.
Rugs? Why would they need rugs? Everything I thought I knew about helping someone acclimate to a new country and a new culture flew straight out the window of the resettlement agency that my TSOS colleagues and I were volunteering at.