From One Family to Another: How You Can Help a Refugee Family
In 2016 the United States admitted 84,995 refuges. These refuges came from countries all across the globe and often arrived in the United States after years and years spent in war-torn countries and after experiencing famine, violence, and near constant stress and fear. The majority of these refugees came as families; mothers, fathers, and kids who left everything and everyone they’ve ever known with the hope of living a life that’s safe and stable. Many of the kids who came as refugees spent their entire lives in transit or in refugee camps. Many of the mothers and fathers came after spending their entire parenthood worried for the safety and health of their children.
When families in the United States see refugee families on TV or in their own community, they often feel empathy for them but also don’t think they have much in common. While it’s true that they might not have many shared experiences, there is much they do share: love for their children, hopes for a better life, and a desire to ensure their little ones grow up happy, healthy, and strong.
Mother to mother, and family to family, it’s all of our responsibility to help where we can and support one another as we all work to raise our kids. Check out the list below for ways that your family can help support refugees in your community!
Learn about the refugee experience
While there is no one universal refugee experience, there are some things that most refugees go through. Take the time to learn about what it means to get refugee status, what the process of resettlement looks like, and how refugees in your community are welcomed. Once you know a little bit more about the experience of refugees you can begin to help them in ways that make sense.
Bust myths about refugees
There are a lot of myths about refugees. Some people believe that refugees make United States communities less safe or that it’s easy for dangerous individuals to enter the U.S. as a refugee. After learning about the refugee experience you’ll be able to spread the word about how beneficial refugees are to any community. If you hear someone spreading misinformation about refugees, speak up!
Connect with your local refugee support organizations
Most communities in which refugees are resettled have refugee support organizations. Reach out directly to your local organization to find out what their needs are and how you can help fill them. Refugees arrive with almost no possessions and often need material support in the early months of their lives in the United States. They might also need help with transportation, school enrollment, learning English, and navigating new institutions.
Support refugee-owned businesses
Refugees work in all sectors of the community. When you’re looking to try out a new restaurant, select a new doctor, or establish a relationship with a hair stylist, consider intentionally reaching out to establishments that are owned by, or that intentionally employ refugees.
Tell your representatives that you welcome refugees
Because of the misinformation about refugees, some communities and government officials don’t want them in their community. Don’t let them make a choice for your community that disservices everyone. Let your officials know how much you value refugees and how committed you are to supporting them in your hometown!