Esther has fond memories of growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “We had a community where everyone was like family,” she says. That changed around 2006, when civil war broke out. When Esther’s family was attacked in their home, they decided to flee, eventually seeking refuge in Uganda.

A few years later, Esther’s parents were excited to learn that their family would be emigrating to the United States. Still, a new country with different customs could be intimidating. Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services stepped forward to help Esther’s family. “They helped us with grocery shopping, finding housing, signing up for school, and getting things like vaccinations and Social Security cards,” Esther says.

Currently a student at John Carroll University, Esther wants to be a voice for other refugees. She recognizes the impact Catholic Charities has had on her family, and she encourages others to follow the organization’s lead. “If people are suffering, you have to give them hope,” Esther says. “You have to welcome the stranger.”

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