Updated: September 12, 2020 11:03 PM
Created: September 12, 2020 11:01 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Saturday marks the start of Welcoming Week, it's meant to recognize immigrants and refugees in the community.
The city of Austin, Rochester and Olmsted County are all taking part. A local political refugee who fled his home in Cameroon after the civil war broke out there tells ABC 6 News why this week gives him hope.
"There's a refugee right now in Rochester or an immigrant who just needs someone to tell him it's going to be okay,” Christian Ngong said. “There's someone who needs someone to tell him good morning. There's another person somewhere who just wants to extend a hand and greet him and say it's well with you."
It's the little things that go a long way.
Christian Ngong moved to Rochester in January from Cameroon. A friend already living in town helped get him here.
"I arrived in the United States as an asylee and it was a very difficult moment for me to start up. I came in because of this connection and I was able to be linked to IMAA,” Ngong said. “These people have been able to link me up to the United States, make me learn the culture, and empowered me."
So when he found out about Welcoming Week, Christian was relieved. He said he felt like he and other immigrants and refugees felt supported.
"It's going to make people feel like they have that kind of hope. One thing in life is it's not actually what you have but the most important thing in life is knowing you have someone somewhere who is ready to support you,” Ngong said. “In Rochester, you have a shoulder to lean on, you have a hand to lift you up and you have a hand to wipe your tears."
Officials said they want immigrants and refugees to know they are welcome in Olmsted County.
"We are all in this together, pandemic or not and you're welcome in our community. We're joining this regional environment to create welcoming environments for people wherever they came to live in our town,” Sheila Kiscaden, Olmsted County Commissioner said.
Christian hopes events like this don't stop.
"Use this week to connect with refugees, use this week to connect with immigrants, and use this week to connect with visitors. It's a wonderful initiative. I've not found it anywhere since I started traveling, but when I learned about this opportunity in Rochester, I say it's wonderful and I hope it continues,” Ngong said.
For a list of events happening during the week, visit this link.
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