This June, LSG staff member and former refugee Aimee Zangandou will join other former refugees in Washington D.C. to receive leadership training and advocate on behalf of refugees. Aimee was selected to attend Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service's (LIRS) World Refugee Day Advocacy and Training Event. Along with the Walk of Courage Award Gala and Refugee Sunday, this event will take place as a part of LIRS's 75th Anniversary Commemoration, celebrating 75 years of walking alongside migrants. Aimee will be joined by Yeshey Pelzom, International Rescue Committee (IRC) staff member and former Resettlement Program Manager at LSG, in representing Georgia’s refugee communities.
Aimee’s passion for refugee communities is deeply personal. Originally from Rwanda, Aimee and her family fled the violence of the 1994 genocide and crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Aimee, her parents, and her three siblings lived in a refugee camp for one year before relocating to Niger. In 1997, when Aimee was only 16 years old, her family was resettled in Stone Mountain, Georgia. There, a local church welcomed them and guided them through their early days of life in the U.S.
Since her arrival in Georgia, Aimee has actively helped other refugees adjust to life in the U.S. She began volunteering with refugee communities through the IRC. When Aimee heard that LSG’s Refugee Services department had an opening, she decided to apply. In 2009, she came on staff as a Data Specialist. A year later, she became a Social Adjustment Case Manager and was eventually promoted to Senior Case Manager in June, 2013.
Now, Aimee manages social adjustment services that provide refugees with the resources and knowledge they need to thrive in their new homes and new communities. These services include educating refugees on everything from home maintenance to public transportation to medical appointments. She finds her work “personally rewarding” and is constantly looking for ways that she can serve refugees more effectively.
Aimee is excited for the opportunity to attend LIRS’s World Refugee Day Training and Advocacy event. The trip won’t be her first time in Washington, D.C., but it will be her first time speaking with members of Congress about issues that affect refugee communities. She looks forward to learning more about advocacy and leadership and plans to bring the knowledge she gains back to refugee communities in Georgia. “I’m hoping I can learn more about advocating for refugees and develop skills in keeping communities together,” Aimee said. “I want to empower refugee communities to advocate for themselves and strengthen their communities.” Aimee holds a B.A. in International Affairs and a M.A. in Public Administration.
For more information about the World Refugee Day event and LIRS’s 75th Anniversary, click here.