Post # 16
I think she needs to more seriously consider the refugee option, if she’s living in a warzone with no reasonable prospects of improvement on the horizon. Of course home is home, but in some circumstances it just doesn’t make sense to stay there anymore. I also wonder whether your support is just allowing her to delay that difficult decision—you’re doing an amazing thing, but you’re also making it easier for her to accept the status quo.
I would just have an honest conversation with her: the situation in her home country doesn’t seem to be improving. You’re not able to continue supporting her indefinitely and will have to gradually wind down the support over X time period. You’re still committed to helping her live a better live and will be happy to help in any way possible with refugee/immigration paperwork, if she chooses to pursue that route.
Post # 17
Some people clearly can’t think outside of their privileged bubbles…
OP, I think what you guys are doing is admirable, especially in light of the fact that her future has basically been ripped away from her by conflict she has no part in and no control over. The fact that you guys were willing to help her in that way at all takes an incredible amount of compassion and friendship. But I agree with the sensible PPs that it may be time for her to seriously consider the refugee option. The current world climate makes that a very scary prospect, but with no end in sight to the conflict, I don’t see many other options available.
Sit down with her and let her know that unfortunately, you guys aren’t in a position to continue supporting her the way you are, but that maybe you’d be willing to help her get back in touch with the immigration attorney, or some international refugee groups who may be able to show her a path out of her current situation.
Post # 18
twinklecat : You are doing a really great thing.
I also think people do not really understand what it is like to actually be a refugee. Being a refugee as a single woman with no family is one of the most dangerous things in the world. Refugee camps are not happy and safe places that people seem to think they are. They often have little food, santitation and crimes such as rape and sex trade slavery. It may seem like a no brainer to someone sitting in the west to get out of a conflict zone but to someone actually living in these situations it is often swapping one bad situation for a worse situation. It is also a very big thing to become stateless and depending on where she is could put a death warrant on her head meaning she can never return to her homeland.
My advice would be to talk to some aide agencies who work in the area where your friend lives. Discuss with them what might be the best cause of action. They often have or know of scholarship programs for students to attend schooling in another country. They often employ those with some university education to work with them. But mostly you will get viable on the ground intel of her situation.
I wish you luck.
Post # 19
One more thing – you agreed to pay for university tuition and fees, not to support her. So if you were to withdraw support for the day to day, you would not be breaking the promise. Maybe you could revisit strictly the fees if/when it becomes more stable.
Post # 20
Wow some people really have no clue what life is like outside of their bubble, this is war torn Africa not middle America. She can’t just go on the internet and find a job at Starbucks.
OP I think you’re doing a really admirable thing, I don’t know all the details of her situation to be able to say what she should and shouldn’t do, but in terms of what you should do I think you should be honest with her and if you can’t continue to support her at this level then you have to stop, or at least reduce the amount of money you’re sending her.
Is there anyway she could get a student visa and transfer to a university in another safer part of Africa? It seems a shame after you’ve invested so much into this for her to leave with nothing to show.
Post # 21
Thanks to all who made informed and compassionate comments — I’m really grateful. I think it is clear that our next step needs to be a frank conversation with her, sooner rather than later. She is a kind and reasonable person, so I think she will understand where we are coming from. I agree with PP that something should come out of our arrangement, especially since we’ve already given so much (although my husband has pointed out the sunken cost fallacy… we’ll see). So I think during our conversation we will ask her what she wants to do, collectively assess whether that’s financially and logistically possible, and go from there. As PP have pointed out, the refugee path is a lot harder and riskier than it should be, especially for a young woman alone. So I understand her reluctance there, to an extent. I think too we will begin explore forms of community support, to lessen the financial burden on us — maybe our religious community could help out in some way.
Post # 22
twinklecat : Kudos to you for all the sacrifice and support you have provided to your friend.
Have you thought about suggesting she do a TEFL course and try to find an English Teaching job in a country that doesn’t require you to have a bachelor’s degree? If I’m not mistaken, Thailand only requires you to have the TEFL course, but I could be mistaken. In this way she can work in a country that doesn’t have such a tumultuous political climate and be earning some money that she can save towards her own studies?
Post # 23
Bee, you mentioned your religious community. Are you/were you missionaries? If so, I would definitely seek out leaders in your church or program. Perhaps they have resources that would help. You may be able to crowdsource some funding as well.
Unfortunately, it is likely that she will have to leave home. While painful, it doesn’t sound like things are going to get better any time soon.
Does she have a friend she could go through the refugee process with, so she is not alone?
Post # 24
whitecollarbee : Quite the opposite, we are Jewish! We were there for work. But yes, we do plan to reach out to our synagogue about this. It’s not really the kind of thing they do, but it can’t hurt to ask.
No, most of her friends have gone into the mountains. Which is obviously not an ideal solution.
Post # 25
Wow, really? People think she can just get a job or a loan no less in a war torn country where money is scarce, infastructure is fragile, and people go into the mountains to escape strife? What a tone-deaf, bizarre attitude.
Good luck, Bee. I’m glad you got some sensible advice as well.
Post # 26
Wow, what a tough situation. I think it’s wonderful that you and your husband are helping her, but I agree that you can’t continue monetary support forever.
At this point I’d lay out your position to her, and ask her what she thinks is reasonable and how you can help in ways beyond financial support. Where does she see her future heading, and what kind of support does she need?
Would PPs suggestion of helping her get a student visa be feasible? Just about anywhere else would be preferable it sounds like. This might be a long shot, but is there any internet in her area? If so, would getting an online degree or certificate be possible that would allow her to apply for jobs in other countries?
I’m not sure how dangerous it is to travel within the country and whether the situation is such that she’d be barred from leaving the country, BUT if getting to an airport and buying a plane ticket is possible, could she get out and then apply for political asylum once she’s abroad to bypass the refugee camp process? Of course this would only be possible if she’s willing to leave, but it does seem like political asylum might be a better option than refugee status under the circumstances.
Post # 27
Wow, you can really tell some people have never stepped out of their priviliged little Western bubbles. How blind to the rest of the world do you have to be to say a young woman with no family living in a war-torn country in Africa should just “stop being lazy and fix her own situation”?!
I can’t offer any advice OP, but just wanted to say that I understand how difficult this situation is. Whatever you choose to do, I hope you and your husband are proud of yourselves for trying your best.
Post # 28
Thank you so much, everyone. We are going to have a conversation with her about this shortly.