Professional Mentors for Asylum-Seekers
- Volunteer Opportunity posted by Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International (TASSC)
A few hours per month
Short-Term (few weeks/months)
4121 Harewood Road Northeast
District of Columbia
The mission of TASSC is to end the practice of torture wherever it occurs and to support survivors as they empower themselves, their families and communities wherever they are.
TASSC's vision is to see a torture free world.
One of the biggest challenges asylum seekers face as they rebuild their lives in the United States is finding meaningful employment. Despite their professional backgrounds and US laws that guarantee asylum seekers the right to work, most cannot find work in their fields and are often forced to accept low-wage unskilled jobs. This takes a significant toll on their sense of self-worth, belonging and purpose, and can negatively impact successful resettlement. At the same time, it deprives employers and the larger community from leveraging the unique abilities of these highly-skilled and incredibly motivated immigrants. Our hope is that with your help, TASSC survivors (also called “members”) can begin to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel toward their professional goals.
What is the TASSC Professional Mentor Program?
Through this program, we collaborate with members to inspire them to set professional goals. We need your help to build a network of professional volunteer mentors available to coach members toward those goals. Volunteer mentors are recruited on a rolling basis – we seek compassionate, creative professional volunteer mentors who can be part of a 3 month professional mentorship with a TASSC mentee.
We seek individuals who either work in, or have strong connections or knowledge in a variety of professions. We also are open to professionals who would like to offer broader professional mentorship.
Mentorship Requirements, Qualifications and Benefits
We ask that volunteer mentors meet the following requirements:
- Attend an orientation at the TASSC office in Northeast DC; offered the first Monday of every month (2nd Monday when a holiday falls on first Monday). Please RSVP at www.tassc.org/volunteers before attending, as dates may change.
- Facilitate at least two in-person meetings with your mentee over the course of 3 to 4 months
- Conduct follow-up meetings or conversations with your mentee related to:
- Resume creation and improvement
- Credential requirements for their profession
- Job and educational opportunities
- Networking to market skills and experience
- Attend close-out / feedback meeting to report on your experience
We seek mentors with the following qualifications:
- Experience building successful, long-term professional networks
- Current professional with at least 2 years of experience in the workforce
- Outstanding relational, follow-through, oral and written communication skills
- Passion for TASSC mission and vision, and desire to improve the lives of others
- Commitment to TASSC’s strengths-based service model
- Proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook; Internet and other research tools
Our hope is that mentors will benefit from the mentorship in ways including, but not limited to:
- Networking with like-minded professionals
- Knowledge of issues relevant to survivors of torture and asylum seekers
- Opportunity to contribute to survivors’ efforts to rebuild their lives
- Exposure to survivors with a variety of cultural and professional distinctions
- Participation in TASSC’s efforts to offer integrated services to a vulnerable population
- Orientation every first Monday (2nd Monday when 1st Monday is a holiday); held at the TASSC office from 6:00-7:30pm; Please RSVP at www.tassc.org/volunteers as dates may change.
- 3 month mentorship
- Option to continue mentorship on an ongoing basis
Ready to be a Professional Mentor?
If you have questions or would like to be a mentor, please email your resume to Mireille Makambo at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jennifer Isely at email@example.com. Please also complete a new volunteer interest form at www.tassc.org/volunteers.
MORE ABOUT TASSC
TASSC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization governed by the TASSC Board of Directors. Our day-to-day operations are led by our Executive Director who oversees a small staff including an Associate Director, Social Services Program Manager, Health and Psychological Wellness Program Manager, Advocacy & Outreach Program Manager, Legal Services Program Manager, and two Clinical Case Managers. We also have excellent volunteer staff members who assist with program coordination within TASSC.
About TASSC Social Services
Finding a job is often a survivor’s (TASSC member) first priority after receiving a work permit. In addition to case management, health and psychological wellness services, the social services team helps survivors identify short and long-term employment goals, assisting them to develop an individualized job placement plan, create or update resumes, connect to potential jobs and prepare for job interviews. Job and education fairs also help survivors to meet employers and learn about educational opportunities.
Background Information: Refugee vs. Asylum Seekers
Refugees and asylum seekers are both defined by international law as individuals outside their home countries who are “unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution based on [their] race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.”
- A refugee is an individual who has successfully applied for refugee status and been granted legal asylum in the host country prior to entry.
- An asylum seeker is an individual who submits an application for asylum after entering the host country. For the most part, TASSC works with asylum seekers.
Pre- and Post-Migration Stressors: The Need for Meaningful Employment
Refugees and asylum seekers are often exposed to high levels of pre-migration stressors (including war, violence, torture and persecution), and post-migration stressors (including family separation, unemployment, unresolved losses, inadequate housing, isolation, discrimination, and loss of identity). For asylum seekers, the wait for legal status is undeniably their biggest sources of stress. Unfortunately, the wait for asylum in the US has skyrocketed in the last few years.
- Between 2011 and 2016, the number of pending asylum applications increased by 1,800 percent.
- Since 2012, the waiting period between submitting an asylum application and receiving an interview has risen from 6 months to at least 3 years and, in many cases, even longer.
TASSC members come from a range of different backgrounds. Roughly 70 percent are men and 30 percent are women ranging from the ages of 18 to 65 and older. The majority are well-educated professionals who spoke out in opposition to oppressive governments, and come from a range of professional backgrounds including medicine, academia, and IT. Survivors’ countries of origin have varied throughout the years, depending on global political conditions, but presently 95% of TASSC’s members come from Africa, with the biggest populations hailing from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Cameroon. If you are interested in learning more about country conditions in these countries, a good place to start is Freedom House’s country reports. They can be found at: https://freedomhouse.org/reports
- Training Provided
- International Volunteers