His organization, Overcomers Refugee Services, is meeting the needs of refugees in a unique Way.
CONCORD, NH – Imagine being forced to flee your home, leaving everything behind, because of war or persecution. You are now a refugee. Having nowhere else to go, you may spend years in a United Nations camp. Then you are sent to a new country where everything is different from anything you know and almost no one speaks your language.
In the first six months, a government-funded agency helps you find a small apartment, a job, low-cost health care, enrolls your kids in schools and provides English lessons. But all too soon, barely speaking this new language, you are on your own. What then? You still need to heal from your losses, overcome the fear and pain, and learn to live among strangers. It can take years to adjust.
Overcomers Refugee Services was founded to help meet these needs.
Overcomers Refugee Services was inspired by the experience of its Executive Director, Clement Kigugu. Mr. Kigugu came to the US from Rwanda in 2006 seeking asylum. He worked for several years as a caseworker for a New Hampshire resettlement agency, helping refugees who had recently arrived. Members of the refugee communities came to know Mr. Kigugu as a source of support. When they no longer qualified for assistance from the resettlement agency, they began seeking his help and counseling outside of the organization.
Realizing the ongoing need of refugees and understanding that they could be best served by people who spoke their language and had shared their experiences, Mr. Kigugu established Overcomers Support Services in 2013. Earlier this year, the organization’s name was officially changed to Overcomers Refugee Services.
More than 800 refugees have been settled in Concord over the past 5 years, mostly from African and Southeast Asian countries. Overcomers consistently works with about 240 families each year, providing services and support related to cultural orientation, general social services, employment counseling, along with programs for women and youth. Despite the drastic reduction in the number of refugees being resettled in the US, there is still great need for refugee support.
Once resettled, refugees deserve the opportunity to achieve the American dream, not just survive. Refugees become New Americans. They have much to offer New Hampshire and Concord, both economically and culturally. In addition to the new ideas and rich heritages that they share with us, they fill needed jobs, open businesses, pay taxes, buy homes, start families, and contribute to the overall productive economy of our state. Many New Americans just need a helping hand over the hurdles they meet as they acclimate to their new home and become part of our community. That’s why Overcomers is committed to making the process of integration as short and as effective as possible.
To learn more about Overcomers Refugee Services or to get involved, please visit www.OvercomersNH.org.
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