STEPHANIE ADAMS, 30, REFUGEE ADVOCATE
Growing up, Stephanie Adams saw how hard her mom, who immigrated to the United States from Colombia, had to work to make sure her children were successful.
Now, as the Greensboro office director for CWS, Stephanie and the team welcome more than 200 refugees a year to Greensboro who are hoping
to start a new life, free of persecution and political turmoil. CWS-Greensboro provides refugees with assistance in finding employment, getting legal advice and enrolling in schools, among its many programs.
“Our role is to help them get to where they want to be, to be a cheerleader,” Stephanie says.
In January 2012, Stephanie met the Chhetri family, a family of four who fled Bhutan in 1990 due to violent ethnic unrest and political instability. The Chhetris were the first family to whom Stephanie was assigned to as a newly hired case manager, working with several other CWS staff members and volunteers. After fleeing Bhutan, the Chhetris went to India and soon after, resettled in Nepal where they would spend the next two decades before being accepted into the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program. The Chhetris credit their faith in God as the source of strength and motivation they needed along their journey.
Stephanie spent a lot of time with Indra Chhetri, his wife Meena and their two children, Birendra and Bijaya, during the 90-day resettlement program. She accompanied them in exploring churches in the area, helped to get Bijaya enrolled in school and put Indra on the path to network, which led him to secure a job with Guilford County Schools as a teacher’s assistant – a position very similar to what he was doing in Nepal. Meena is now a team lead at her job, Birendra graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Bijaya is headed to her brother’s alma mater fall 2016.
Resettling refugees like the Chhetri family means more than just spending time with them; it also means working with the community to foster a welcoming and supportive attitude. “One of our goals is to help the community become active refugee advocates,” Stephanie says.
Four years after resettling her first family, Stephanie continues to fight for and help those who come to Greensboro seeking a better chance at life.
“Knowing that they can be here and feel safe and at peace, and have the opportunity to prosper makes it all worth it,” Stephanie says.