Kassaw Merie traveled to the United States (U.S.) from Ethiopia in 2009 seeking asylum. Although he had a master’s degree, he struggled to find a home and job.
Now working at Catholic Charities, Merie uses his experiences as he serves refugee children in Catholic Charities unaccompanied minor program (UMP). Unlike children in traditional foster care, children in the UMP come to America from other countries as refugees. The children arrive with no belongings and rarely speak English. These children will live with foster parents until they turn 18 and then live on their own.
Helping Refugee Children
As a Catholic Charities case manager, Merie helps 12 refugee children at a time, ranging from 6 to 18 years old. He meets them at the airport and takes them to meet their foster family. The next steps include assessing the child’s health, education and background. “Some clients arrive here with no knowledge of the English language and have never been to school before,” said Merie.
One client, “Asha” came to the U.S. in the summer of 2014. Her foster parents had a difficult time getting her enrolled in school, because the school did not have experience with refugees. After several attempts, they asked Merie to help. Merie served to get Asha into high school as a freshman. Even though she only completed elementary school in her home country, she recently brought home a report card with all A’s.
“I always thought that I needed money, some kind of power or influence to help people,” Merie said. “Coming to America, I realized I can change lives by working in social services.” Education is a big priority for Merie—he recently received his second master’s degree in social work. He encourages all the kids he works with to pursue degrees. “I was one of the few in my hometown in Ethiopia who made it to high school and then college,” said Merie. “Education has a lasting impact on independence, self-sufficiency and becoming a contributing member of the community.”
If you would like to help these children living far away from their homelands and families to succeed in their pursuits, please consider becoming a monthly supporter of the Foster Care Fund Team today!