My experience at LRMN - A reflection by volunteer Allie for International Migrants Day 2018
Our volunteer Allie, who has helped us with various fundraising activities as well as research and casework shares her experience with LRMN in a blog post to celebrate International Migrants Day this year.
“I began working at LRMN in the middle of October 2018. Before this I had only come into contact with the issue of immigration through my classes at university. Coming from a small, suburban town in the United States of America I had never even met a first generation immigrant. However, at LRMN migrants and refugees are frequently in the lobby waiting for their appointments with the organisation’s legal advisors. Often times there are strollers and children milling around the lobby as well, as clients do not have the resources to pay for childcare. It can be easy to look at these people and think they are not that different from me. The children laugh and look around for something to play with just like my younger cousins. Some rambunctious ones even try to run around. But when a migrant comes in crying, overcome with emotion I am reminded that these people have had to endure hardships with a strength that I cannot imagine possessing. Their gratitude at the smallest gestures such as providing directions reminds me of this as well.
Part of my job is to read through the files of closed cases and summarize them into a case study. I see pictures of the client, letters detailing her situation, papers notifying her of her eviction or the cease of her benefits, and I start to feel as if I know this person. I cross my fingers as I read through the file, hoping she is awarded Leave to Remain or is granted her appeal. Her wins become my wins. Her celebrations, my celebrations. Her tears, my tears. This aspect of my work at LRMN has been incredibly transformative as well as informative. I knew about the turbulence and violence of many countries in the Middle East, however, I learned of many other nations in unstable, unsafe conditions as well. What I have found most heart wrenching is that many migrants do not want to leave their homes and their countries, but have to. War, persecution, and political corruption have forced many people to flee making migration not a choice, but a necessity.
I have enjoyed my time at LRMN and admire the staff’s passion for and dedication to helping their clients. Many of the people who visit LRMN are in desperate need of assistance. LRMN has collected winter coats and regularly keeps a stocked food pantry that is often visited by clients after their appointments. Migrants who are about to be evicted, cannot work because of their immigration status, and who are not receiving the benefits to which they are entitled all visit LRMN. When the staff discuss and collaborate on these cases, I can hear the compassion in their voices. Migrants are not blamed for the situations in which they find themselves. That empathy and understanding is something that I will take with me and hope to spread. Happy International Migrants Day. —
By Allison Van Beaver