Ever since I learned about AmeriCorps in 2009, I knew this is something I wanted to do. When I got accepted into PHC last year, I was extremely excited because I had so many expectations and I knew I was about to have the ultimate experience I have been yearning for. As someone who wants to work in the Global health field very soon, my PHC site is perfect. I always say that working with the Refugee Health program in Philadelphia Resettlement Agencies is the perfect way for me to work in the Global Health field WITHOUT traveling abroad (and I do want to do that by the way).
Now, ten months later, I am almost at the end of my services. I gained heaps and heaps of invaluable experiences that were just ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! I work with refugees during the first few months they arrive in the United States. I remembered when I first arrived to the US as an immigrant at the age of nine; consequently I am reliving that experience every day through my clients (especially the minors).
This must be the reason why I take my position so seriously. Some days I cannot go home until I am sure that the work I need to do on a client’s behalf is completely done. Sometimes, working with people who constantly rely on me can be time consuming, frustrating, and daunting. This is especially the case when they are dealing with problems that are beyond my control. Nonetheless, I have stories for days of the reasons why I love my position and the reasons why, if you’re like me, you would want to drop what you’re doing and try to help my refugee clients as much as you can. Here are just a few of examples of these stories…
-During a follow up visit at the doctor with the very first family whom I started to work with, the youngest member, a 5-year-old little Burmese girl, insisted on holding my hand and sticking with me during the entire appointment. This is when I knew that I was no longer a stranger to her. While escorting them home after, it started raining so I gave my little friend my umbrella. A couple of seconds later I noticed I wasn’t feeling the rain; her older sister came next to me so we could share an umbrella together (this is when you should go awwwww!!). The pinnacle of this sweet story? When we got to the house, my little friend said “thank you,” gave me a HUGE hug around my knees and ran off while her 7-year-old brother gave me a high five J .
-Picture this: I am sitting in a waiting room during Refugee Clinic hours surrounded by a group of Bhutanese/Nepali children while we all watch a Nepali movie on YouTube on my phone. Later, the same group of kids are playing with American kids and having a ball even though they do not speak the same language.
-A 15 month old kissing my hands and cheeks and laughing while on the bus on the way to an appointment.
-Taking a group of Darfuri refugees to a “Walk against Hate” and a health fair and seeing how much everybody enjoyed the outing (the kids loved the playground I took them to after.)
-Seeing a former client on the streets while helping a new arrival and them telling you “Thank you for helping society“ (These were his exact words, not mine.)
-In November, realizing that the 9-year-old Bhutanese boy who came in August and did not speak English is now answering the questions the doctors are asking him in very good English. Not only that, but he was asking me a million questions and begging to be allowed to play on my phone!
THIS is why I love my Philadelphia Health Corps position, the reason why I will be a PHC member for life, and the reason why I will continue on my journey to the Global Health field with confidence and enthusiasm – PHC!!!!! (Chaz cheerleading voice)!
-Sandra Moise, Refugee Health Associate