Mentoring young refugee and immigrant women

Kaliyza uses her unique experience as an immigrant to mentor young refugee women.

May 06, 2019

As a 17-year-old, Kaliyza left her home in Zambia to come to the United States. Travelling across the ocean for college, not knowing any friends or relatives, she didn’t know what to expect.

While in college, her classmate Florence encouraged Kaliyza to do an independent study in Bethany’s refugee program. For all her life, Kaliyza has loved working with diverse cultures – especially those who are marginalized in terms of income, religion, education, and ethnicity.

This passion led her to volunteer in our refugee mentoring program. Each week, she meets with her assigned mentee, who came to the U.S. from Eritrea as an unaccompanied minor.

“I decided to volunteer with the mentorship program because I know, firsthand, what it’s like to leave home as a minor and come to such a diverse culture. It’s easy to feel like you could get lost” said Kaliyza.

Kaliyza brings unique strengths as a mentor. She not only understands some of the special challenges that immigrants face in the U.S., but also relates to the lonely and numbing sense of homesickness that comes from being far from home.

She understands the many reasons someone may come to the United States – as a refugee seeking safety; as a child through international adoption; or as a young adult pursuing higher education.

Kaliyza strongly believes that God, through her friend Florence, positioned her to use her experience to help others in a similar situation.

“As a mentor, I can share the guidance, friendship, and laughter that I needed so badly to fill the void of distance between my family and me,” said Kaliyza. “I can set the example that, with God, you can achieve anything you set your heart on.”

How can you use your unique talents to help children in need of support, safety, and connection?

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