I remember the first time we landed in the US. In fact, other than Zanzibar and Cyprus, it was the first big international city I flew to – and to stay and make it my home. If you haven’t read how we came to be here, here is the story.
It was more than daunting. It was scary. We did know a few people in Tampa, the city we now call home in the beautiful sunshine state of Florida, but if we had someone that was dedicated to helping us (to some extent), it would have made a world of difference.
This is why I want to launch an initiative. An initiative of kindness. An initiative that says “Welcome, I have been where you are, and I am here to help you, no questions asked.” Let’s call it #WelcomeAbroad
The need for #WelcomeAbroad?
The first thing most of us do when we realize we are going to immigrate, is look for Facebook groups in cities, towns, states or countries that we are moving to. Once we get access, we ask all the questions that have been mulling in our heads at 3am, and we get a flood of info. Sometimes, not even kind info – some people can be downright rude.
Then after a long process including VISA’s, savings, selling everything you own, saying good bye to everybody, sorting pets and kids, getting on a flight and flying mostly more than 20 hours at a time, you step into your new country. You hope your savings will be enough, you hope you have planned everything correctly.
And then it starts. You have to find a home, find a car, figure out how bank accounts work, figure out how schools work, figure out driving, laws, start your new job, or find a job, set up your business, and stay on the right side of the law… and find out which detergent will give you that same home feeling as Stasoft.
What is #WelcomeAbroad?
The idea is to get Saffas to help Saffas. How much easier would life be if we had someone to guide us, who has gone through the same process as we have? Someone, who when you land, all wide eyed and bushy tailed, can take you out for the day and show you around shops, show you where to get your license done, or where to get your Tax number, ID number, or how to grab some gas. Where to register internet, your electricity and water bills, or how to go about buying a car, open a bank account and more. Or just be there to answer questions, and give you some peace of mind.
To know a familiar face on the other side is one of the most comforting things you can imagine – suddenly you are not as alone as you thought. And things get done much quicker than you would have done alone.
The aim is not to use that person. They will not give you money. You do not have to pay them. This is a pay it forward initiative, and if you have been helped by someone, be kind and offer to help another after you have settled.
How to #WelcomeAbroad?
- Go to the #WelcomeAbroad Facebook Group and request joining
- When you join, read and accept the terms and conditions
- Please, invite 5 other Saffas who are either abroad, or who will be immigrating soon – this is to help grow the group
- Request a #WelcomeAbroad by:
- Start by adding a hashtag of your country to the post.
- Then, introduce yourself.
- Mention your the country you are going to, the type of VISA your are going on, and tell us a bit about your situation, as well as when you are going.
- Those able to welcome you can then comment.
- What people are able to offer is out of their own accord. As an example, people can offer to host a family for a week, or just show you around. Don’t abuse their kindness, and do not expect them to cover any of the costs for you. Be courteous. If you are going to stay with someone, be a good roomie, offer to pay some board and food, and clean up after yourself.
Example: #Tampa – USA. Hi, My name is Maliza and we are looking to immigrate to Tampa USA. We are going over on an L1 and L2 Visa. We need someone to show us the ropes and give us the info we need to start our lives. We have/don’t have kids. We plan to stay in an AirBnB, and will have/won’t have transport when we get there.
Let’s pay it forward with kindness and action! And if you have helped someone, or have been helped, Instagram and Facebook with #WelcomeAbroad or send us an email with some photos and a story to say thank you to your hosts.