SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–If you’ve ever moved to a different state, then you know how challenging it can be. Now imagine having to relocate your life to another country. It’s a transition that Jordan Valley Community Health Center is helping refugees with once resettling in Springfield.
In just one year, Jordan Valley has provided care to more than one hundred refugees through the Refugee Transit Program.
The program is made possible through the partnership of Drury University, City Utilities Buses, and the International Institute of Southwest Missouri.
Looking out of the window of the Jordan Valley Community Health Center for these toddlers is to overlook a whole new world. Asende and Mauridi’s parents fled a civil war in the Congo to provide them with a better life.
“The help I get like the hospital care, I can be able to help my kids get educated and I can be able to walk around freely without being afraid,” says Kashindi Wilondja, a refugee mother from the Congo.
Not only can Kashindi walk around freely, but her son is fearlessly able to do what most 2 year-olds do.
With Kashindi’s newfound freedom, comes brand new experiences like getting dental care.
“It went well and I was not afraid,” says Wilondja.
It’s a process made easier through a Drury University partnership and student volunteers like Emily Hinkle.
“I drive to their houses and then I pick them up at their door and I’ve planned out a route with City Utilities, the bus system, and we ride the bus to a stop close to Jordan Valley then we walk over and then once we’re here we check into their appointment,” says Hinkle.
“We’re sensitive that us expecting a lot of them when it comes to medical care may not be the priority for the moment and there really could be a lot of trauma, other experiences that affect how they feel about themselves, their care and so we really try and take the stance of making sure we’re addressing kind of the health needs as they’re able to,” says Kayla Cottey of Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
The health care system in America is complicated enough let alone figuring it out it as a foreigner and adjusting to a new country. That’s why people like Rebekah Thomas of the International Institute of Southwest Missouri step in.
“When refugees come, they come with basically nothing. They come with a few bags and the clothes on their back and so we provide housing for them when they come. I think probably the biggest need for our clients is language acquisition,” says Thomas.
Learning English, learning about Springfield, and learning how the bus system works are a few things for them to get used to before looking out the Jordan Valley window starts to feel like home.
Kashindi and her family ended up in Springfield of all places after the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants decided that it was one of the best cities to work and live.