On behalf of our team, I would like to share a little of our experience with Angelique and her family and RefugeeOne. We met with Angelique weekly (for the most part). We would usually have a plan for the visit; and just as often the plan changed at the last minute, so flexibility and ingenuity were incredibly important. With the help of a professional translation service through Heartland Alliance, we helped Angelique with essential tasks such as accompanying her on the CTA to the downtown DMV office to obtain a state ID, learn the bus route to her job as a housekeeper at a local hotel, register at a food pantry in her neighborhood, as well as getting her Wi-Fi account and modem set up.

We practiced the alphabet and simple English with Angelique (she’s a quick learner), brought cupcakes to celebrate family birthdays and provided first aid when we came to a visit, only to find that she had severely sprained her ankle. We got to meet her extended family as well.

Thanks to your generosity, we were able to help with Jewel gift cards for food, CTA passes, boots and warm clothes when emergency needs arose. We shared laughs together at our efforts to speak a few words of Kinyarwanda (which I gave up on quickly) and at the often bewildering aspects of life here.

Her children are adjusting well to life in the U.S. They are attending school, learning English and are favorites at RefugeeOne’s after school program. Angelique has said she’s very grateful for all that she’s received from First Pres as well as the opportunities the children have now. They walked over an hour each way to a crowded primary school in Rwanda, days that often stretched from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Our six-month mentoring commitment has ended, but each one of us has special memories of Angelique and her family. We wish them well and look forward to updates from RefugeeOne on their progress.

Kim Hogan