The other day I asked Viviane Kamba, program manager at the Congolese Development Center, what – apart from language – was the biggest challenge for refugees and asylum seekers she sees.
“The American dream,” she told me simply. “Their expectations of the American dream.”
When refugees and asylum-seekers arrive in Massachusetts, they are put in housing that is often difficult, whether it be with no heat, difficult roommates, or an unfeasible rent. They are told to expect almost immediate employment.“They come with big expectations. And when they arrive, it’s just… not what they were thinking,” said Kamba.
There is a lot of handle, upon first arriving. They have to deal with benefits that didn’t go through, transportation hurdles, and overwhelming culture differences.
“The first thing we do, we sit down with them and just to help them set up realistic goals,” said Kamba.
It is a heartbreaking idea, that of having to manage ones expectations of the American dream. But it is a challenge that Viviane Kamba has to manage on a daily basis.