Bringing immigrants and refugees together, and connecting them through the sharing of stories with one another, is what Immigrant Connect attempts to do. The Refugee Communities History Project, based in London, has taken on a similar mission and has done a remarkable job of connecting refugees to helpful contacts in the area.
Like Immigrant Connect, RefugeeStories.org allows refugees to share their stories about their arrival, families, jobs, and many other aspects of life in London. In addition to text, visitors to the site can listen to the refugees tell their own stories in an audio format.
Some of the stories are humorous, like Berivan Doskyâ€™s tale of her first ride on the Underground. She said it was the scariest journey she ever made â€“ even scarier than when she fled chemical bombardment in Iraq.
But the site is more than a canvas for touching moments. It is a resource. Here, refugees can order educational DVDs produced by the Refugee Communities Project and find tips for making a new start in London. These resources help them gain lawful citizenship, while other resources, like the forum, help them see what it means to be a real Londoner. Here, refugees can interact with each other in an immediate, direct and social setting.
Sites like RefugeeStories.org and Immigrant Connect are excellent tools for refugees in a strange country. It shows them that they are not the only ones struggling to readjust and fit in. Zlatko Pranjic, from Croatia, talks about the trials he initially faced in the London arts community because of his accent. But he created a unique theater company with other non-native English speakers like himself. With their help, he turned what initially seemed like a detriment into an asset, and he created a unique place for other refugees and foreigners.
Sites like these provide refugees with a sense of belonging and others with some insight into the lives of refugees â€“ their struggles and their triumphs. I am glad that London has staged this campaign. Itâ€™s comforting to know that people outside of this melting pot of America are also working hard to ensure that refugees find their place in the city. That is one goal that Immigrant Connect hopes to achieve, and it is encouraging to see that we are not alone in our efforts.