This month’s thought leader is Adamou Mohamed. Adamou led the efforts with our national affiliate, Church World Service, for the advocacy trip several of our staff members and community leaders attended earlier this month. Originally from the West African country of Niger, Adamou is the Refugee Community Organizing Coordinator with the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service. In his role, Adamou leads many refugee leadership development, community organizing and civic engagement trainings and coordinates refugee and immigrant advocacy efforts in key states lifting up refugee voices, stories, and promoting the welcome of refugees and immigrants in multiple states. Adamou holds an MA in International Studies from NC State University, Raleigh.

Moving Forward through Service

I’ve always believed that it is more impactful for refugees to tell their stories during advocacy opportunities instead of relying on others to tell it. Refugees’ experiences are unique and very powerful, and sharing our story gives us the opportunity to connect, inspire and move people to action, thus transforming the public narrative. A refugee story should not however be limited to the struggles they faced while fleeing violence and surviving in the refugee camps, but must also include their resiliency and contributions to their new communities as they integrate the fabric of a country – who gave them another chance to rebuild their lives. I have witnessed the power of story before in previous advocacy meetings when a member of Congress who had no intention of sitting at the meeting walked by, heard a refugee sharing his story, and ended up sitting for the entire meeting as he was moved by the story he heard.

What I saw ten days ago in DC further demonstrated how stories facilitate actions. This time, it was at a roundtable discussion with decision makers from federal agencies that oversee the refugee program: a former refugee and mother shared how she survived an attack that left her running for her life and making the toughest choice of leaving her four children behind. She also spoke of how she is overcoming her physical limitations to work and care for disabled Americans at their homes. This mother applied for her children to join her three years ago, but recent slowdown in refugee admissions have left her wandering if she will ever be reunited with them again. To the surprise of all in the room, one of the officials in the room was so moved that she personally made it her mission to make sure that she is reunited with her children. This action brought many in the room to tears and joy at the same time.

That was the power of storytelling. As a community organizer, I have held many workshops about the power of storytelling in advocacy efforts with refugee community members, particularly when meeting with our elected officials who make decisions that impact our lives. Some people may feel like things are not getting better at the federal level on refugee policies, and see these visits as pointless since they are only likely to meet with a staff and not the elected official. The truth is that Congressional staffers are the eyes and ears of their boss: they write the reports and brief members of Congress about issues their constituents care about. We should see this as an opportunity to educate them and build champions. Many of the refugee and immigrant leaders hit the Congressional offices on May 9th, ready to share our stories ready to change hearts and minds once more; and that we did. This is definitely one of my most memorable advocacy visits.

Archived Thought Leadership Stories

April 2019: Moving Forward in Service by Faratiana

March 2019: The Opportunity of an Open Door by Zinah

February 2019: My Life’s Purpose by Thien

December 2018: Thank You, America! by Nawroz

November 2018: A vote for Resettlement is a Vote for Democracy by Ashley

September 2018: Greetings from MODA! by Laura Flusche

August 2018: The Ideal Candidate by Justine Okello

July 2018: My Role in Welcoming, and Being Welcomed by Mary Martha Myette

June 2018: A Reflection on a Year of Service by Laurel

April 2018: Why I Serve with Refugees by Minji Kim

February 2018: Where are the Refugees? by Stephanie Jackson Ali

January 2018: Sharing Riches Through Mentorship by Kelsey Smith

December 2017: Thoughts on Doing Good This Season by Andrew Leba

October/November 2017: Thoughts on Thankfulness by Paedia Mixon

September 2017: Undocumented and Unafraid: My Parents, My Heroes by Raymond Partolan

August 2017: Building PathDriver: My Path to Drive an Impact by Robin Deutsch Edwards

July 2017: Civic Engagement Regardless of Citizenship by Maria del Rosario Palacios

June 2017: Celebrating World Refugee Day by Rabbi Peter S. Berg

May 2017: Love>Fear: And It’s Good For Business by Bonnie Kallenberg

April 2017:Talking with Babies Makes Their Brains Smarter by Nitza Vega-Lahr, Ph.D.

March 2017: It’s All About Student Support by Terry Segovis

February 2017: Clarkston, Georgia: An Ever-Changing Town by Awet Eyasu

January 2017: Reclaiming Georgia’s Legacy of Love by Paedia Mixon

December 2016: Reflections on Welcoming Communities Trip to Germany by Alicia Phillip

November 2016: Thanksgiving in America by Bishop Robert Wright

October 2016: Voting: The Real American Dream by Elizabeth Poythress

August/September 2016: From the Road: das Willkommen by Paedia Mixon

July 2016: My Life In AmeriCorps by Lauren Mertens

June 2016: Reflecting On World Refugee Day

May 2016: A Gift for my Parents by Bee Nguyen

April 2016: The Ripple Effect by Breauna Hagen

March 2016: Lessons I’ve Learned Tutoring a Refugee by Ashley Hager

February 2016: For the Love of Humanity by Safia Jama

January 2016: 4D Service Learning at The Galloway School by Scotti Belfi

November and December 2015: A Case for Syrian Resettlement by Paedia Mixon

October 2015: Creating a Welcoming Atlanta Interview with Luisa Cardona

September 2015: Third-Annual Red, White and NEW Event Exceeds Fundraising and Advocacy Goals by Kelley Lugo

August 2015: Patti Garrett – August 2015 Food for Thought by Patti Garrett

July 2015: Engaging International Families in Parent Groups by Patti Ghezzi

June 2015: Reflecting on the Fourth of July by Kevin Abel

May 2015: Looking Back on Iraq by Whitney Kweskin

April 2015: All Hail Hall by Spencer Hall

March 2015: Honoring our Volunteers by Adriana Varela

February 2015: Celebrating New Americans by Charles Barnwell and Bob Glick

January 2015: What Refugees Leave Behind by Wendy Cheeks

December 2014: Welcoming Week in Atlanta by Emily Pelton

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