By Roseline Souebele
There is a common belief that we never feel comfortable away from home. But when it comes to Hope House, I did feel good living there because it was like a home for me – my home. People there are careful, and caring. Hope House is not just a house – it is a family for adult asylum seekers. And as asylum seekers, we go through a lot on our journeys here, and the pain of what we endure doesn’t just go away. We miss our former life, our families. So this building that provides shelter – and a family – makes a huge difference.
I first heard of Hope House when a friend from Portland Adult Education introduced me to Carolyn, a program manager at that time, in early June 2019. My first connection was as a volunteer. Then, on July 1, I moved in. At the time, I was very stressed and needed someplace that I could call my own, even a little square that would make me feel like I was still in control of my life. Moving in felt like I was getting a second chance in life.
The team at Hope House saved me from depression, and gave me a space to express myself. They trusted me and believed in me. I volunteered as an interpreter for their work permit program. I participated in the English language programs, and trainings on money management, and on how to be a good tenant. They set me on a good path to be a successful resident of Maine and of the United States. Before the pandemic, we had meetings every Tuesday to support and check in on each other. I did not lack anything. The team would make sure to get us whatever we needed – from an article of clothing, to a piece of furniture, some help with transportation, or simply a good connection .
When COVID hit and we went into lockdown, I was part of a team that worked on what to do if one of us was infected and had to quarantine, as we live in two- and three-bedroom apartments. Unfortunately, I was the first to get COVID and had to quarantine with my roommate. I was very worried, but the entire house, the residents, the staff, and the partners were very supportive. They dropped food off every single day during the three weeks that I was out of work.
I am grateful and thankful to the entire team. Martha, the executive director, a woman of character, nice and very professional. Carolyn, and now Julia, the new program manager. Eleodor, and all the volunteers and board members for sharing their time and love with us. Hope House provided me with two mentors who are my friends now. I lived there for 22 months. I wish I could have lived there longer, but their mission is to light up our way for the future, so we can navigate this country, and this new life. You can all be part of this incredible dream rescue team by supporting Hope House with your donation, and also your time as a volunteer. Portland, and Maine, are good places to live, and Hope House is a place to call home.
Roseline, former Hope House resident, now lives independently in Portland, works as a Certified Nursing Assistant and as an interpreter at the House of Languages, and is a nursing student at Southern Maine Community College.