From 2015-2018, Artful Life created and administered a refugee mentoring project, one of the community-led initiatives that resulted from the Stories of Route 66 arts engagement project.
The Refugee Mentoring Project (RMP) trained experienced refugees to provide free mentoring, guidance, information, and referrals to newly-arriving refugees in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The pilot program utilized a peer mentoring model which paid refugee mentors for both training and client hours, filling a gap in services for refugees in Albuquerque while complementing the range of direct and other services available. The pilot received
outstanding evaluations from partner organizations and clients.
The RMP pilot program was generously funded by a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation. Subsequently, the program was assumed by a local, refugee-led organization
United Voices for Refugee Rights.
Learn more about the pilot program mentors, below.
The Refugee Mentoring Pilot Project was funded by the McCune Charitable Foundation and supported by the Global 505 Coalition: Artful Life, Burundian-American Association of NM, Catholic Charities, Encuentro, Immigrant and Refugee Resource Village of Albuquerque, International District Healthy Communities Coalition, Lutheran Family Services, NM Asian Family Center, United Voices for Refugee Rights, UNM Refugee Well-Being Project, Women for Women International, and Women's Global Pathways.
Warm thanks to the following organizations/ individuals which/who have provided superb mentor training: Dept. of Health (DOH)/Michelle Esquibel; UNM SE Heights Family & Community Clinic/Roberto Martinez; NM State Office of Refugee Resettlement/Kresta Opperman & Karen Gonzales; Family Independence Initiative/Susy Sarmiento; NM Immigrant Law Center/Eva Eitzen and Carissa Aranda; Catholic Charities/Bea Villegas & Cecilia Yapita; and Lutheran Family Services/Tarrie Burnett.
Thank you, too, to SE Heights Public Health Office/Linda Hellyer, the Sundowner/New Life Homes and the Luna Lodge/New Life Homes for donating their community and conference rooms for mentor training.
Enormous thanks to the NM Department of Health/SE Heights Family & Community Clinic and Linda Hellyer for providing mentoring space for the program.
Please click here to see photos from our visit to Mayor Richard Berry's and Governor Susana Martinez's office on International Migrants Day, 12/18/15.
Please click here to see the requirements/screening/processing that refugees must complete in order to enter the US.
ODAI AMER, REFUGEE MENTOR (Pilot Program)
“The major thing for me is helping new refugees. I remember myself when I first came to the U.S. I did not know what I should do to get a better job, better services, and I felt lost in this world with no guide. I do not want that miserable feeling for other refugees. A good mentor should have experience connecting to resources, collaborating
with community organizations that offer services, good communication skills, patience and a willingness to help others. I will support the refugees I mentor with my best experience and knowledge.”
PARWIN HUSSAINI, REFUGEE MENTOR
“My name is Parwin Hussaini. I am from Afghanistan. I came to Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 9, 2015. I am an Afghan refugee mentor with the Refugee Mentoring Project, directed by Artful Life. In the spring of 2015 I applied to be a mentor in the Refugee Mentoring Program. Because I am also a refugee I am interested in helping refugees who come to Albuquerque from Afghanistan. I have hope for refugees when they move from their own country to different countries, like here in Albuquerque New Mexico. I know it is very hard but I hope they will learn to feel comfortable with help from U.S. government programs and organizations like the Refugee Mentoring Program (RMP) that are helping
them in many ways.”
MARTIN NDAYISENGA, REFUGEE MENTOR
“I am Martin Ndayisenga, a refugee serving other Refugees with the Refugee Mentoring Program. I was born in Burundi,but grew up in Lukole refugees’ camp in Tanzania. My lovely wife, the mother of my children, and I arrived in the United States of America in June 2007. Since 2011 I have served asa Refugee Congress Delegate selected by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). I applied to be a Mentor in the Refugee Mentoring Program to increase my advocacy level and act as a liaison between the refugee population and Albuquerque social services providers. I hope that serving as a Mentor will enable me to learn more about existing social services available in our State of New Mexico and find out more regarding human rights. The Refugee Mentoring Program will develop my ability to refer refugees and immigrants to competent services and entitlements that can care for them. "