When R first came to ABQ Faithworks in August 2021 seeking assistance as an asylum seeker, they had no idea of what the future held and that less than a year later, they would be sitting on the organization's Board of Directors.
When dangers in their home country caused R to seek safe harbor in the United States through asylum, ABQ Faithworks was there to help R and their family transition to new life here in Albuquerque. Reestablishing one's life in another country is a huge challenge, and being an asylum seeker made it all the more complex.
With a spouse, a young child, and one on the way at the time, R found the services of ABQ Faithworks to be a godsend in their time of need. In start contrast to incorrect stereotypes about immigrants seeking asylum, R is highly educated with an MBA and has a strong history of service to their home country in a leadership position before having to flee to the United States for their safety.
"In the beginning we were lost, in limbo. We did not know what to do or how to make a plan," R recalls about the days immediately after relocating to Albuquerque. Understanding the immense and overwhelming challenges facing asylum seekers in our city, ABQ FaithWorks assigned R a Family Liaison named Deborah. She worked closely with R's family to address its specific needs and help them establish themselves within the community. Deborah ensured the family had access to food, provided R with guidance on pressing issues, and informed R of resources that could further help meet the family's needs.
The relationship that formed between R and ABQ FaithWorks has been extraordinary. Together, they celebrated the birth of R's new baby, and they celebrated again when R was granted employment authorization and found full time employment. As the family became more securely established in Albuquerque, R was quick to look for ways to use their skills, education and experience to assist ABQ FaithWorks. R now sits on the Board of Directors and serves as a Family Liaison for other asylum-seekers.
"The best way to show my gratitude to ABQ FaithWorks for all it has done for us is to give back, " R states, adding, "I have been through the process, so it is easy for me to relate. I am happy to help asylum seekers advocate for themselves. I find purpose in life through serving others." R reports they are thrilled to help support ABQ FaithWorks clients through tough issues like the difficulty of finding housing, vulnerability due to immigration status, and other issues inherent to asylum seekers.
This is just one of many success stories that ABQ FaithWorks has amassed. It is proud to now have R on its leadership team, offering their informed perspective in assisting asylum seekers in the Albuquerque area.