3.3 Orientation


Users are responsible to connect with government and local organizations to ensure access to information relevant to refugee sponsorship in their community. 



The Purpose of Orientation



Orientation helps ensure that both sponsorship group members and refugee newcomers are on the same page with regards to the scope of the refugee sponsorship. This includes clarifying roles and responsibilities of both parties, conveying essential information about living in the country of resettlement, and responding to any questions the people you are sponsoring may have. 

You may consider providing orientation in an informal and flexible way that will allow you and the refugee newcomers to have open, two-way conversations in a safe and comfortable atmosphere. During orientation, acknowledge potential culture shock and discuss together strategies to cope with it.

Orientation happens throughout sponsorship, but, to break it down into two distinct areas, it can be separated into ‘Pre-Arrival Orientation’, and ‘Post-Arrival Orientation’.



Pre-Arrival Orientation



These pre-arrival orientation tasks may require or benefit from pre-arrival communication with the refugee newcomers themselves, for example, by e-mail, WhatsApp, or telephone. This may or may not be possible due to the program requirements in your country

Here are some more specific pre-arrival orientation tasks that the group members may consider: 

  1. Provide a directory with group member pictures, sponsorship roles, bios, and contact information. Send the bios and photos to the sponsored refugee(s) via email prior to arrival if possible.
  2. Organize a group to welcome the refugee newcomers at the airport. Organize who will go, who needs a ride to and from the airport (including the arriving people), and welcome items like national flags, balloons, and a welcome sign.
  3. Prepare a clear plastic envelope for documents such as a bus map, bus pass, map of resettlement community, international calling card, and bilingual and pictorial dictionaries. 
  4. Obtain a secure storage space (for example, a small filing cabinet) for important papers such as legal documents, leases, insurance policies, identity documents, etc. It is also helpful to scan or photocopy important documents after refugees’ arrival in case they get misplaced or stolen.
  5. Collect basic medications and health-related products (cold syrup, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Band-Aids, condoms, sanitary napkins, and tampons, etc.).  As the brands and names might be different, be prepared to answer questions related to the basic medications provided. 
  6. Put together a toiletries package (soap, shampoo/conditioner, hair gel) toothbrush/toothpaste, disposable razors, nail clipper, hand lotion, etc. 
  7. Create a phone reference card with a list of other phone numbers the people you are sponsoring may need (for example, in case of an emergency or danger).

Welcome Pack RESET Training and Support
Managing Expectations – A Resource Kit for Refugee Sponsors, RSTP



Post-Arrival Orientation



Almost all sponsorship settlement tasks involve some degree of orientation. Most obviously, introducing the refugee newcomers to the local area, including their neighborhood and the nearest town centers, is very important to encourage self-reliance. Orientation tasks are often closely connected with explaining transportation, budgeting and helping the refugee newcomers settle in their new home. Essential post-arrival considerations also include supporting them in finding out where and how to grocery shop. 

Quick check-list you may want to consider

  • Have you let the refugee newcomers know who to contact in case of emergency and provided phones?
  • Do they have a meal prepared and basic food items? Did you check for allergies, dietary restrictions or cultural preferences for food?
  • Did you go over elements related to household safety (locks and safety devices)? (For more information see: housing)
  • Did you indicate where you have placed essential items (medicines, toilet paper, garbage, clothes)?
  • Have you asked about any immediate concerns or questions?

Grocery Shopping Orientation  

Grocery shopping orientation is an important exercise to consider culture, power dynamic, and managing expectations. Refugee newcomers may simply be unfamiliar with some of the foods found in the grocery stores of their country of resettlement. The people you are sponsoring should ultimately decide how to spend their food budget. This is when you reflecting on the power dynamic of the situation is important. The need to manage expectations may arise if food prices are significantly higher than what refugee newcomers expect, or if the types of food they are used to are not readily accessible. Potential tasks could include:

  • Give a tour of the local grocery store. Explain which food items are low-cost or bargains;
  • If applicable, help the refugee newcomers access food banks and food subsidy programs; 
  • Demonstrate and encourage comparison shopping across various stores;
  • Show the refugee newcomers grocery stores that carry their ethnic foods.



Check In: Orientation


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