Why I Got Into Refugee Work: Meron

With so many stories in the news today about refugees, we wanted to do something different and share stories from our headquarters about why and how they got into working with refugees, and how it has inspired them. This week, our IT coordinator Meron shared her story:

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Meron (right) with friends Bethlehem and Selam (L-R)

No one understands what being a refugee means unless they’ve been through a similar journey: one that is filled with doubt about what the future holds, but yet filled with hope and dreams, that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Even though refugees flee from their country for many reasons, whether it is to avoid prosecution or war, they’re searching for one common thing; peace. For me, “refugee” was just a word that I heard on the news until I came to work at ECDC.

The news mostly talked about why refugees would flee their country and the camps they stayed in until a solution is found. However, working at ECDC gave me a new perspective on what happens to refugees when they reach their final destination.

The fact that I’m fortunate enough to work for this organization and to contribute indirectly for the well-being of refugees is a satisfaction by itself.

Three years ago through mutual friends, I met and became friends with a very lovely young lady named Mahlet. She was a refugee from Eritrea, and traveled through Ethiopia and Kenya until she finally arrived in Texas and then moved to Washington, DC where she was reunited with her brothers and mother.

I wasn’t even aware that she was a refugee until that day and I was shocked to hear her stories. As I was listening to her, I could never imagine what she had gone through, and even more share her difficult stories with someone she had just met. I really felt like I was watching a movie sitting there looking at her with my mouth wide open.

More than anything, I was amazed by how she was expressing her situation in very simple terms, as if she was telling a story.  I was fascinated not only by how brave she was to share her journey but also how she still managed to have a smile on her face as she did it.

Refugees should be admired for their courage to move on, even when circumstances were making it harder for them.  As the saying goes “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

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