Prepared by Adelina Del Real:
After entering the non-profit world I knew it was the environment I was destined to work in. There is great satisfaction in being able to assist people and feel good about what you do. Gratification in my experience has been even greater as I get to work with the most vulnerable group, children. Working with unaccompanied minors who arrive in the United States from Central America has provided me a window into the experiences these youth live before, during and after their trip to the U.S. After experiencing an immersion week in Rome learning about Refugees and trafficked humans my perspective is much different. I was always sympathetic to the children’s stories, however now I see them in a whole new light.
My immersion week in Rome taught me that refugees need a much more comprehensive understanding of not just the legal issues they are facing, but also of the traumatic situation they are living. Learning about NGO’s was very interesting to me as they function differently than the organizations I have worked for. One thing that stood out for me was how most were funded by the state and gathered data on outputs instead of outcomes. I think it makes a great difference to be able to provide services to a population who is in dire need of services without having the constant worry about where the funding is going to come from. Receiving information about how other countries financially support local welfare systems really opened my eyes on the global methods available. This doesn’t mean that one method is better than the other, however I could get a sense that staff from organizations such as Jesuit Refugees Services, Centro Astalli and Caritas Rome were able to focus on the needs of their clients knowing there was financial assistance available.
Visiting Centro Astalli in Rome was also a great experience for me. Being able to see firsthand the center that provides refugees with a place to shower eat and receive healthcare made the experience more personable. We were there with the refugees and learning from them. We were lucky enough to hear from Anthony, A Kenyan refugees who had obtained a career and degree in his home country but was persecuted and forced to leave. He left behind his family and a twin brother, traveling with his mother to Italy. Anthony’s story was very touching as he was a very charismatic man who endured kidnapping and torture. Having to leave his family must have been a very difficult decision for him, yet he shared how he was thriving in Rome now and even helped at Centro Astalli. A story of pain and perseverance, Anthony is a great example of Refugees finding a gleam of light in a cave of darkness. When working with unaccompanied youth now, my understanding of their stories and experiences goes beyond being sympathetic, it brings forth a sense of needing to accompany our clients in a variety of areas in order to be supportive in their transition of integration into their new home.