Furaha House was founded in April 2011 by a group of African immigrants and refugees who have been in the country anywhere from 1 to 20 years. The Swahili word “Furaha” means “joy.” It is a non-profit organization that strives to assist African refugee and immigrant families in achieving self-sufficiency through culturally competent services and multidisciplinary programs in strategic partnership with like-minded organizations by establishing a diverse, dynamic and sustainable community. There has been a drastic increase in Africans who migrate to America for a wide variety of reasons, including war, famine, health, and their own protection. Furaha House seeks to fill a gap in available
services that provide cultural competence and expertise in dealing with refugees and immigrants from nations like Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo who have survived some of the worst violence of our generation and some who have spent years in refugee camps with little or no education.
Doors of Hope: Story of an African Immigrant
Moving to a new country can be a challenging experience for many people especially those that do not know the language or the culture of the new country.
I remember I was 22 when I came to the state as an international student with my brother and sister. When we arrived in Washington DC at the airport; we were suppose to print an airplane ticket from DC to Portland, OR. Not knowing the technology and the language we felt stuck and only had a couple of hours to catch our next flight. We tried to ask for help but as you may already know people were very busy and it seemed as if the building was moving faster than we could stop it. We did not have and did not know how to use the public phones to call our relatives for help. Finally, we caught the attention of one of the flight attendants who was passing by and explained to her in very poor English that we needed to go to Portland but did not know how to buy the tickets. She was kind enough to direct us to the person that helped us get the tickets; after this the next puzzle was to figure out how to get to our plane… Before leaving Africa our father told us to follow the signs and read on the screen using our flight number; and so we did until we got to Portland, OR.
The journey to this country was not easy and the challenges were more that we expected. The cold winter that we were not prepared for; and the cafeteria food not very appetizing. Little by little we started to see how life was like in America and were shocked by seeing children who are barely 18 years old living alone and many other things.
In brief, if moving to this country was challenging for someone that had earned two years of Law school and had taken some private English classes; I imagine how difficult it must be for someone that had spent more than 7 years in a confined space in Refugee camp. Someone that was told that America is a land of opportunities and as soon as you land in America dollars will be failing off the sky. This person gets to America and get located in an unfurnished or partially furnished apartment if they are lucky; and get told to look for a job as soon as possible. The person does not know the language, does not understand the culture and expectations of this country but hey sorry there is nothing else we can do. Tell me, how are these people suppose to strive in this country? How are they suppose to survive or achieve their promised American Dream if all they know they can do is housekeeping which is one of the toughest jobs and very low paying in this country. The Refugees that are coming to America are the future voters and citizens of this Country. They need to be well oriented and trained to be able to achieve their self-sufficiency which in return can help boast the economy of this country.
Furaha House was created by African Immigrants and Refugees and understand what it is like to be a new comer in a different country. Our philosophy is to use whatever resources we may find for the success of our people. We believe that with hard work and a sense of community African immigrants and refugees can indeed strive and become self-sufficiency in this country. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is true for helping immigrants and refugees.
By: Solange Woodson