Flag Day has special meaning for Kaska Yawo, Liberian citizen by birth, United States citizen by choice.
Kaska’s swearing-in ceremony that day followed his college graduation in Liberia years earlier, years of civil war, years of long, difficult transition from refugee to United States citizen.
Kaska’s faith in God sustained him during these years and is still the foundation of his life today. A proud concerned father of Melvin, Kaska enrolled him in the Jesuit’s Nativity School of Worcester. Thrilled to attend, 13 year old Melvin didn’t want to miss the last day of class, even if it meant missing his dad’s citizenship swearing-in ceremony. But, Melvin didn’t miss the surprise party given the next day by his dad’s colleagues at Catholic Charities. There Kaska works as Refugee Resettlement Case Manager, committed to help other refugees stabilize their own lives. “I like helping people. If I can get to this level, others can”, Kaska says.
Kaska, a well respected leader in the Worcester community, teaches by example: active in his Baptist church, active helping African immigrant youngsters by establishing an after-school volunteer tutorial organization, active in giving back to the country that welcomed him.
When asked about his willingness to spend a week in New Orleans with his Catholic Charities colleagues, Kaska said yes. Yet the week, straddling Palm Sunday, was bittersweet for hardworking Kaska because the devastation reminded him of his own sorrow of displacement and separation, and of family members who remain in a refugee camp in another continent. Yet Kaska’s faith in God prevailed. He participated in the ritual of the blessing of the palms at St. Louis Cathedral led by the Archbishop of New Orleans. Kaska helped rebuild a community of people who had experienced loss and are now finding hope.