A woman hugs a man in a crowded airport
A family of refugees are reunited with each other in the Lincoln airport. Hundreds of refugees will settle in Lincoln for the next few months, some will come alone and some will come with their families. Photo courtesy of Catholic Social Services.

Many refugees from Afghanistan and other countries of the Middle East are arriving into the City of Lincoln. These refugees are leaving their war torn homes as the Taliban continue to take over their lands. Through pain and suffering many tired families are forced to leave and come live in an entirely different culture. 

Tyler Matson, a worker for Catholic Social Services, sees the different emotions that are displayed on the faces of refugees. They are faces of sadness, grief, anger, reluctancy and joy. 

As more and more Afghani refugees settle in Nebraska, there must be people to help. Tyler Matson is one man who delivers the help that the resettled refugees need.

“As a refugee case manager working for Catholic Social Services, I am quite literally the first interaction most of the refugees have with a person in their new community,” Matson said. “It is an absolute treat to do what I do.”

As a refugee case manager with Catholic Social Services, Matson picks up refugees from the airport. He drives them to get any essentials they need, and takes them to their new homes.

“Taking [refugees] to their new homes is my favorite part of the job,” Matson said. “You can imagine the different emotions that are taking place when a family enters their new home in America.”

Matson said emotions vary anywhere from joy, to sadness as the realizations set in that they are no longer in their old homes.

Take a step back and think about being forced to live in a new home in an entirely different country that lives an entirely different way of life and culture.

“I have to understand how to be friendly and care for others’ needs,” Matson said. “I believe that I can do that in a very unique way. I feel like I know how to experience empathy, and I think the refugees I encounter have a great respect for the way I handle every situation.”

Matson’s job does not end with dropping them off. There is a relationship that is kindled afterward. Some relationships are stronger than others depending on the emotions of others. If a refugee is joyful they react to Matson better. If they are sad or angry they do not gravitate towards Matson. No matter the emotions the refugees experience in front of Matson, he takes each and every one of them seriously.

Each time he takes them to a doctor’s appointment, or picks them up home essentials, the relationship deepens.

Some people and families respond well to Matson.  He said they are comfortable with him and ask him plenty of questions. He also said, some people and families may feel anxious and not respond well to him.

“All I can do is care for them, that is my priority,” Matson said. “I need to understand that not everyone will respond in a loving way to me. They are in circumstances that I can’t even dream of.”

Matson has made an impact on many of the refugees that he has encountered. One refugee named Zabeeh, that Matson picked up, is very grateful for who he is as a person.

“In a very scary time, I felt that [Tyler] was there to be our comforter,” Zabeeh said. “He didn’t have to try, he just did and that was all I could ask for.”

Another refugee, Awad, felt a sense of peace when being picked up by Matson.

“There was much anxiety,” Awad said. “When I saw him smile at us, it made everything a little bit easier.”

Mitch Fisher, one of Matson’s roommates, said he is inspired by the way Matson lives his life.

“We will be walking downtown and [Tyler] never hesitates to strike up conversation with the homeless,” Fisher said. “He sees the good in everyone he encounters, whether that be the homeless here in our community or the new refugees moving to our city.”

Matson will continue to help refugees settling in Lincoln as more seek refuge in the middle of the country.

“As I continue to try and make a small impact,” Matson Said. “I know these courageous [refugees] will continue to make an impact on me.

Senior Journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln