ORLANDO | Throughout history libraries have played an important role in society. According to Yamilet Exposito, a vocational advisor for Catholic Charities of Central Florida’s Comprehensive Refugee Services, “They are doors for access to culture, knowledge and information. The resources and services they offer provide the opportunity to learn, serve as support of literacy, and education.” Because libraries facilitate access and use of information sources, and contribute to developing computer skills, she and fellow advisor, Ambroise Seide, collaborated with the Orange County Library System to provide information in Spanish and Creole. Both recognized a language barrier for most of their clients.
“We are the first face, the first hand and support for them… Our mission is to help and guide them through the adjustment process,” Exposito said. She and Seide help refugees arriving in the Orlando area receive cultural and employment orientation.
Exposito said, due to Covid-19, orientation classes were recorded in Spanish and Creole, and clients have access to the videos through a link shared by Catholic Charities. “The information regarding the library forms part of this orientation,” she explained. “The library system is one of the most important community resources to consider. Providing this information in their own language is a significant achievement.” Exposito recorded the message in Spanish. Seide recorded in Creole.
“This is welcoming the stranger,” said Gary Tester, president of Catholic Charities of Central Florida. “We’re doing everything we can to help those new to our community, to acclimate and understand. Because libraries are often a place where people go for information, we thought it was a great way to put the message out – to welcome them to the community and explain how we can help.”
Exposito explained, “Receiving this information in their native language allows them to make proper use of it. Now, we have clients more informed and motivated to use this powerful resource forever.” She added, “Due to the vulnerability of this community, we care about them…we advocate for them. We embrace them with hope, transforming their lives through faith, compassion, and service, following Catholic Social Teaching principles.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, April 07, 2021