Women’s Refugee Care (WRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing services and support to refugee families from the Great Lakes Region of Africa (Congo, Burundi and Rwanda) - referred to as ECGLC - who reside in Rhode Island. Based on the belief that strong and informed women and mothers promote healthy and productive families and communities, WRC has a special focus on women, girls and promoting gender equality.
HISTORY of WOMEN'S REFUGEE CARE
WRC was founded by Aline Binyungu and Clement Shabani, a married couple from the Democratic Republic of Congo, both social workers with human rights training. Before coming to the US they ran their own non-governmental organization called Association pour le development et la promotion de droits de la femme et de l’enfant (ADEF) that provided legal, education, health and psychosocial support to women and children from South Kivu, in the eastern part of the Congo. Their work started prior to and continued throughout the political conflict.
"We were born in a country where the customs prevail against the rights of women and girls. We witnessed firsthand how much women and children were discriminated against. We were raised in an environment where a girl going to school was a luxury.” – Aline
Like so many people in areas of conflict around the world, they saw their normal lives crumble under chaos and horrifying violence. In 2006 they were forced to flee their home on foot at night, and, traveled through Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya before making the treacherous journey to Thailand. As all refugees are illegal in Thailand, they faced extreme conditions. They were not able to work, access social services and lived in constant fear of being attacked. Finally, in 2014, together with their children, they arrived in Rhode Island with little English, almost no belongings and minimal assistance to start their new lives. Like many refugees, they faced tremendous uphill battles in the re-settlement process. No one spoke their language upon arrival, they did not know anyone in the local community and there was no formal orientation on transitioning into the American system and society.
They worked hard to establish themselves and, in the process, realized how much help their fellow refugees needed. In gratitude for their own successful transition in America, they committed themselves to do everything possible to ensure a welcoming and smooth transition for other refugees arriving in Rhode Island.
Together Aline and Clement studied hard at English and worked to get accepted into Rhode Island College where they completed a certification in the Social Human Service Assistant program. They began to serve as a point of contact for local refugee families from GLRA: accompanying local resettlement agencies to the airport to welcome new refugees upon arrival; providing African cultural food to the new families to help them relax and start to heal from their long and often stressful journeys; and helping families and children negotiate the confusing and stressful settlement in a new and very foreign land. In 2016, in order to formalize and expand these services to the local ECGLC refugee community, Aline and Clement founded Women's Refugee Care.