Sovannarorth Sok came to America as a refugee. Today she helps them as a case worker for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
The Service wants former refugees to give back by helping new refugees settle into their new homes. So it has begun a coast to coast outreach campaign. At a Cambodia New Year Celebration in Long Beach California, Sovanna and colleague Lauren Rymer, hold a drawing for glass flowers, trying to attract the cloud and get contact information from former refugees.
Not everyone is interested.
“But we met some people who are happy to meet and have a conversation about their new life in the U.S.”
For some, like Soroan Miller, it’s an easy sell. He thinks he may have been sponsored by the church as an orphan.
“So if anyway, shape or form that can help, you know, to help other refugees besides Cambodians, or other individuals around the world, I would do it.”
The Lutheran Service sponsored around 50,000 Cambodians between 1975 and 1998 over more than 2 decades of war. That’s a full third of all Cambodians that immigrated to the United States.
Today the flow of Cambodian refugees is over. But refugees from other countries continue to seek American shores.
The Service feels Cambodians who have gone through the experience might be able to help.
Nop Vanny wins the drawing today. She says she sees value of the Cambodian immigrant experience.
“We came here first. So we know how easy and difficult and different life is. So if we meet those who have just come here, we can and should help them by giving advice of how to live there and all the rules of this country.”
The Lutheran Service will continue its campaign throughout the United States wherever the old refugees might help the new.