Serving Refugees, Post #3: How We All Can Help

As a recap, I’ve posted twice now about World Relief and how we can serve incoming refugees. You can read those here and here. You can also visit the World Relief corporate site here to see if there is an active office in your area.

World Relief helps resettle refugees into cities across the US. These are families escaping their countries due to some type of awful persecution. They are looking for a safe place to raise their families and to earn a decent living. But it is a very hard situation. Generally they leave their countries with virtually nothing and come here to a new land, to a language they don’t know, and an entirely new culture. Some come from places where they’ve never had electricity or running water. They are basically expected to move here and assimilate quickly into a new life, find jobs not knowing the language, and make a decent living for themselves and their families.

This is where World Relief comes in. They help them get an apartment here, adjust to life, and find employment. But they are only able to give them $425 per person, one time only. A family of four comes and only gets $1700 one time and that goes to pay for their deposits, rent, utilities, everything. That money does not last long. How long would $1700 cover your family of four?

And here is where volunteer and donor support comes in. Here are some simple things you can do to help:

1. Donate household goods. You can pretty much donate anything that is needed to fill an empty apartment. What World Relief doesn’t get from donations, they have to use that $475 one time only per person fund to buy them the essentials. Next time you have furniture that you’d like to get rid of, please consider World Relief. And then any items like kitchen supplies (pots and pans, utensils, dishes), sheets, towels, televisions, anything. If you have a large donation that you can’t drop off, there are people that will arrange to come get it from you.

2. Donate to special events. There are occasional events, like a Christmas party, where you can sponsor a family and provide Christmas presents for them based on the things they need. Or do a baby shower for women in need. Or anything else you can think of. Kroger or WalMart gift cards are great and are always needed.

3. Donate your time occasionally. They are always looking for help in setting up new apartments, helping in the donation storage unit. You can do airport pick-ups and be the first people that the new families see as they step off the plane. You can help provide transportation to things like doctor’s appointments.

4. Donate your time regularly. You can commit to a particular family and be their friendship partner. You commit to spending 2-4 hours a week with a family, help them with English, help them learn how to use a dishwasher, how to navigate the bus system, Wal-Mart, the local library. Take them to the zoo. This is where you get to really invest in someone’s life.

At this point Cason & I have had the joy of doing the first 3 on the list and it has been a great experience. We are currently stuck on #4. We have wanted for months to be able to commit to a family. We even did the ESL training class a couple Saturdays ago. I have just been hung up on the time commitment and it makes me so sad. Between all of the other current commitments in my life, I don’t think it would be fair to family at this point in time to try to commit to them and then fail them. This is one of the reasons that I currently want to give up on my MBA, in order to have more time for things like this. Our friends just started working with a family and it has been amazing to hear their stories.

I have so much more I could say about all of this and my personal reflections from the things we’ve been learning, but I will have to leave it at that for now… Anyway, please consider helping this wonderful organization and these amazingly resilient families. I have been floored in how much I’ve realized that the international community truly is right here in our backyard and it is up to us to help them.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” -Isaiah 58:9-10

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