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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Stecker

Healing by Helping Others

Sarah* fled the violence of Angola a little over a year ago, seeking safety and refuge in the U.S. Sarah once owned her own business, enjoys working with children and loves her family. But life in Angola had become intolerable. Sarah left her family and friends, and fled with only a few small reminders of the life she was forced to abandon.

Sarah flew to the U.S. and arrived anxious and alone in Iowa City in early 2019. Sarah came to IC Compassion seeking legal assistance and met Leah, an IC Compassion AmeriCorps staff member. With the aid of an interpreter, Sarah shared her story and her dreams with Leah. The trauma Sarah has experienced throughout her life, and the isolation she feels in a new culture and language, impact her life every day. Sarah wants a better life for herself, and dreams of one day again owning her own business, but she often feels down and is very sad. Sarah is looking for better housing and a job, but barriers including her trauma, legal status, and lack of English skills make it a struggle.

Leah and IC Compassion are working with Sarah to help overcome these barriers. Leah connected Sarah with a counselor through the IC Compassion Refugee Counseling Center, where she started counseling right away. Sarah also wants to find a job but, because of her unique situation, has been unable to do so. She told Leah one of the reasons she wants to work is to keep busy and use her skills. Leah asked if she would be comfortable doing volunteer work instead. Sarah was very excited about this and has been able to regularly volunteer at IC Compassion.

Together, Sarah and Leah have made great progress! Though Sarah’s trauma will always be a part of her story, counseling has helped her learn new coping skills. She continues to volunteer at IC Compassion and has been a wonderful addition to the volunteer staff. Sarah and Leah also found her a better housing situation and an additional volunteer opportunity. Sarah has touched the lives of IC Compassion’s AmeriCorps staff, volunteers, and other clients. Leah and Sarah continue to work together toward a brighter future.

Donate today to be part of a brighter future for Sarah and other refugees in Iowa City

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