Blog by Thomas Woahloe, “This is my story. I am proud to be a former refugee.”
My name is Thomas Woahloe, a former Liberian refugee born in Buchanan, Liberia and now living in Fort Worth, Texas where I live and work with my wife and four kids.
When the Liberian civil crisis started in December, 1989, I was completing high school with plans to go to University in Monrovia. When the war closed in on Monrovia in June, 1990, I was displaced in Monrovia and had to walk back to Buchanan to be united with my family. All hopes of seeking a higher level of education was further lost in October of 1992 when the activities of the civil war escalated and we finally left home and forced into refugee life: initially in Guinea and then Danane, Ivory Coast. After a few months of very difficult adjustments in July 1993, I followed the migration to Buduburam (Refugee Camp), Ghana which was English speaking, more organized and funded to resettle Liberian refugees.
After many years of getting some tertiary education in Ghana and working in the private sector, I was opportune to be resettled in the United States through the refugee family program in September of 2005. It was at this point that I and many other refugee families were received by the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA).
LSS received many of us refugees at the time with definite plans to resettle and reintegrate us into the communities and society at large. Some of the services included assistance to help with housing and food, reducing financial pressure on the host family members. LSS also found me the first job that I did in the US with a temp agency that was paying almost double the entry level income at the time. I was also opportune to do some volunteer work at the Virginia office back at the time.
The volunteers with LSSNCA took personal interest in the refugees, and not too long, those of us who were aspiring to pursue higher levels of education found ourselves in school. The orientation process and resources provided by LSS gave us the foundation to be able to be firmly integrate into the American society and pursue the American dream like anyone else.
It is based upon this solid foundation that I was able to catapult my career to be able to become self dependent and provide much needed volunteer services to my country of birth, Liberia. It is based on such a foundation that we achieve life’s dreams of being parents, peaceful citizens, and impacting our community as well as other needed families. I am extremely grateful to LSSNCA for the opportunity and the services afforded me in my initial days as a Liberian refugee in Silver Spring, MD.
We are blessed to have made it to the US through the resettlement program. Our parents also joined us in 2008.
It has been the desire of my wife and I to create a platform that will change some of the conditions from which we fled in Liberia. We have been involved with healthcare reform in Liberia, supplying much needed medical equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics, as well as providing training and much needed education in the country.
*Thomas’s story will be part of his upcoming book, Violation of Innocence, a Christian book about hope, with a tone of exposing social injustice in impoverished nations. Will be available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble mid February.