One of the most unique and important elements of Embrace is the vibrance of our staff and volunteers. We have always intentionally partnered with Refugee community members out of the belief that we can only grow from collaborating with people of different cultures. Everyone at Embrace has learned something powerful from our partners, and every day we are amazed by the skills and gifts that our staff bring to the table.
Obed is one of these larger-than-life figures at Embrace. We first met Obed when his wife was expecting their seventh child and came to Embrace for prenatal care. We quickly learned that Obed had an incredible gift for language and spoke more than 10 languages proficiently. As his wife continued through her pregnancy alongside Embrace, we learned that Obed not only had a mastery of languages, but also extensive experience as an HIV counselor to expecting mothers. While living in a refugee camp in Tanzania, Obed became an interpreter in the camp’s clinic, where he was trained to help educate expecting mothers on preventative practices to avoid HIV transmission to their children.
Understanding how uniquely Obed’s experience and skills aligned with Embrace’s work, as well as our growing need for interpreters, we partnered with Obed expecting him to help with basic interpretation needs. As with many of our volunteers and interpreters, Obed effortlessly forged thriving friendships with the families he worked with, and soon, he became an integral part of the pregnancy experience for countless expecting mothers. These mothers found unmatched comfort in his ability to understand their experiences as Refugees and to relate to their cultures and ideologies. More than an interpreter, Obed became a trustworthy figure that many expecting mothers relied on to overcome cultural barriers that can make the birthing process in the U.S. so inaccessible to New Americans.
As Obed continued investing his time into Embrace programming, his role within our programming began evolving. Beyond interpretation for New American mothers, Obed began helping them arrange transportation to doctor appointments, assisting with filling out paperwork, and teaching classes and workshops around a variety of birth-related subjects. He became an Embrace Community Liaison and continues his partnership with us as a trusted advocate for Refugee mothers’ rights.
Obed, like many of our dedicated Refugee community partners, has fostered a dynamic and thriving network of families in our community. He is truly a connecting force that is responsible not only for joining mothers with culturally sensitive services but for amplifying their voices and rights as well.
In our mission to accompany Refugee mothers, we can confidently say that it is partners like Obed that make it possible for us to serve them in a familiar and genuine capacity. As we continue to integrate collaboration with Refugee community members into our organization, we can safely say that it is thanks to them that we have the flourishing community that is Clarkston.