Who are the friends who have changed your life?
Who are the people who have changed your life? Are they friends who share your passions? Family members who have known you for years? Coworkers who helped you do challenging projects?
We can all attest to how relationships and friends can change everything.
That’s why, when World Relief Chicagoland matches our volunteers with opportunities to serve, we focus on relationships.
When you apply to volunteer, our staff want to hear about you – your unique skills, passions, and goals. That’s because your gifts and interests might uniquely align with the goals of an immigrant or refugee. You might be uniquely equipped to help them reach their goals!
When we match a volunteer with an immigrant, refugee, or asylee to help provide transportation, tutoring, or career mentorship, it’s so that you can walk with them. And together, you will both learn and grow!
And you might end up building a meaningful relationship as a result. Max, a World Relief Chicagoland volunteer, and Daniel, a refugee, are a fantastic example of just how meaningful these friendships can be.
“I cannot express how meaningful our relationship and connection has been.”– Max, Volunteer with World Relief Chicagoland, referring to his friendship with a World Relief client named Daniel
From the age of 7, Daniel knew a life of change and uncertainty. He remembers a before time, when his home country was a beautiful place full of loving family. The violence that broke out in the 1990s ruined that. When conflict and violence killed his family and pushed Daniel from his home in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999, he fled to safety in Uganda. There, he lived in refugee camps for nearly 20 years.
Their home was a plastic shelter. Food was scarce and water was hard to access. Even as a young boy, Daniel woke up as early as 3 a.m. to collect water. “There was not enough food,” Daniel told us. As he showed a video of the refugee camp, he reflected on life there. “It was very hard.”
Eventually, Daniel moved to another settlement camp. That camp’s conditions were a little bit better. As he grew up, Daniel fought to study and achieve an education despite their poverty and his many responsibilities. This allowed him to achieve an academic scholarship to study at a university in Uganda and achieve a degree in human services in 2016.
The Future Became Brighter
Then, in 2018, Daniel was accepted for resettlement in the United States. “I’ve never been excited like I was [at] that time. I was extremely happy,” he told us. Among the many changes he experienced with life in the United States, one blessing was the most basic: he slept inside a building – something he had only done while studying at university in Uganda. In the United States, he became connected to World Relief’s services and started working toward stability – and dreaming about his future.
And that’s when he met Max.
Like many of our volunteers, World Relief Chicagoland’s mission and work serving immigrants and refugees in vulnerable situations inspired Max. He wanted to be part of the work. That prompted him to apply to volunteer as a virtual youth tutor in the Chicago office. However, in talking with World Relief staff, discovered another way to use his skills and passion. As a pre-med student at Loyola University, Max has long been working toward a future career in medicine and was a great candidate to join World Relief as a volunteer health advocate.
Friends with Shared Passions
As a volunteer health advocate, Max walks with Daniel to help him navigate the intricacies of the health care system and manage various health tasks. He also helps Daniel work toward other goals – such as Daniel’s dream of becoming a nurse. “He has helped me so much,” Daniel said. As a pre-med student himself, Max helps Daniel study for his anatomy and physiology classes and the two discuss their shared interest in the healthcare field.
But the relationship is far from one-sided. In return, Daniel has shown Max a new perspective. “Through getting to know Daniel, I have been able to learn more about the gaps in our healthcare system, as well as the good things that can happen,” Max shared. “My hope is that in the future, I can help change the parts that are broken.”
Daniel has an insider perspective on what it’s like to receive healthcare as a refugee in the United States. Through him, Max has gained a greater awareness of the many tasks required to effectively navigate the healthcare system.
Dreams for the Future
“Once I am an established provider, I want to work to change the policies around the gaps in the healthcare system,” Max says. He wants to serve individuals who can’t easily get healthcare. To do this, he will take what he has learned from Daniel and engage other people in vulnerable situations. If they share their experiences, perhaps they can be part of improving systems. In the meantime, Daniel will focus on achieving his goal to become a nurse. He wants to be part of the mission and deliver vital healthcare to everyone. Daniel described how he will value the individual and their unique perspectives – especially those who are often excluded or forgotten. He shared, “I want to give the best services to marginalized communities.”
“I want to give the best services to marginalized communities.”– Daniel, referring to his future career aspirations as a healthcare provider
Together, both Max and Daniel want to be part of making healthcare more accessible for people who are overlooked or underserved. And they are equipping each other to do just that.
You Can Build Transformative Relationships Too!
For more than 40 years, World Relief Chicagoland has connected volunteers like you with opportunities to serve. And as a result, thousands of volunteers have made a life-changing difference for our immigrant and refugee neighbors. If you bring your whole self – gifts, abilities, and passions – to the table, you will gain the chance to experience transformation too. We will provide opportunities for you to walk with individuals like Daniel, who are rebuilding their lives in Chicagoland.
Will you begin a transformative relationship?