Vanessa Burbano Story

Meet Aimerance.  She is a sweet and spunky eight year old little girl.  Aimerance is from Congo and has 7 siblings.  I began working with Aimerance this spring and right away I was surprised by her ability to move up the different reading levels.  She is a fast learner! 

I have been serving in Reading Circle for a little over three years now.  What began for me as merely a way of “volunteering” to help students learn to read once or twice a month has now become an integral part of my life.  I heard about Reading Circle through my church and I was immediately drawn to this ministry.  For a long time, I had been looking for a ministry that focused on showing God’s love to children by addressing the needs of students in a sustainable way.  Thus, is the case of Reading Circle which focuses on meeting the English literacy needs of refugee children.   However, Reading Circle is much more than that.  It is showing God’s love to these students by developing a personal relationship with them and spending time with them.

Over the years, I have been blessed to have mentored different students like Aimerance.  Each of their lives and stories have shaped and transformed my beliefs about meeting those who are in need – specifically the refugee population.  For many people, refugees have been considered to be the social outcasts, the rejected ones and the topic of heated debates among many, including believers.

Throughout my time at Reading Circle, I have learned that if we truly want to serve others, than it’s important to seek to understand rather than to be understood.  In working with refugees, I have learned that before I can make any assumptions of people, I should listen – listen to their stories, their passions, their struggles, who they are, and most importantly, who they want to be.  Refugees have been stripped away from their own country and many times their own families.  Not only are they excluded from their homeland, they are often rejected and stereotyped in countries where they seek refuge and protection.  It’s a harsh reality. 

In Deuteronomy 10: 18 – 19, The Lord says, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and widow, and loves the FOREIGNER residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  And you are to love those who are FOREIGNERS, for you yourselves were FOREIGNERS in Egypt.”  As believers, we have been called to love – love those who need a new home and meet their needs. 

At Reading Circle, we desire to see the needs of refugee students being met through their literacy acquisition.  As a result, the students’ literacy attainment serves as a springboard for their academic success and better opportunities for their future.  More importantly, our desire is to show these children the love of God through building a personal relationship with them and see them flourish in their home, school, and community.   

Alysa Marx