Hi all! I'm in Seattle!!
I moved here last week to do an internship with an organization called World Relief: http://worldrelief.org/ They are an international humanitarian organization that does sweet work in a bunch of countries around the world, primarily through the local church. The organization also has offices in the U.S., and these offices focus on refugee resettlement, which is what I'll be learning the ins and outs of this summer.
Our refugees come from all over the world, but we have high concentrations from Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, and Eritrea. They have all been persecuted, most to the point that their lives were in danger, for their ethnicity, religion, class, political position, or other aspect of their identity. They have all fled to another country, many congregating in refugee camps within which they often become prisoners. Very few ever succeed in being accepted for resettlement in the U.S. or another third country, less than one half of one percent, and that is after an average stay in a refugee camp of eighteen years.
When refugees are accepted by a government like the United States to come resettle within that country, they are connected with one of a few accepted agencies such as World Relief. WR and other resettlement agencies welcome the refugees when they arrive at the airport, set up host homes for their initial arrival, arrange apartments or houses for them and assist them with rent, orient them to the culture and the country, help them shop for groceries, help them learn public transit systems, teach them English, enroll their children in school, take them to the doctor and dentist, help them find employment, help them apply for social security cards, state IDs, medical insurance, benefits, etc., and try to welcome and connect them to their new community. The government only assists refugees for the first 1-3 months after their arrival, and agencies are typically able to offer services for 3-6 months, though we try to connect the families to volunteers who are willing to befriend them and followup with them for the long haul.
It's rough. These people don't necessarily dream of moving to the United States, but they are forced out of their homes by oppression, violence, and persecution. Many come here with no connections. Many leave family behind, even children or spouses. Many were farmers and have no transferable job skills. Many grew up in refugee camps and know no other life. Many know no English. Some have never even learned to read and write in their own language. Many have severe psychological trauma from the violence they have endured.
In light of all that, it's exciting and hope-giving to step into an organization like World Relief that cares about these vulnerable people deeply and strives to serve them with excellence.
So why am I doing this internship? That's another blog post entirely, but I'll try to make it soon. Until then, if you want to keep in touch, send a care package, write a postcard, look me up on Google Earth, etc., my contact info is:
1208 E. Smith St., Apt. 3
Kent, WA 98030
I love you guys.
"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:33-34
Can we be good without God?
2 years ago