Join us for CCWVa’s refugee celebration in Charleston on June 20!
What could make you flee your country and leave your family behind?
A decade ago (c. 2007), a Burmese husband and father was forced to flee from his home. He was separated from his family and detained, all because he had been providing Bibles in an area he “shouldn’t have been”. Consequently, he fled the country as a refugee… but his family had to remain in Burma.
Fast forward to 2017, when Catholic Charities WV Migration & Refugee Services reunified this man with his wife and children! The family is now safely settled in WV – together. CCWVa supported the family, and now both parents are working full time and attending English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The children are doing well in school! In fact, the oldest child is attending a local college.
Who are refugees? Why are they here?
Unfortunately, the nation is trending towards distrust when it comes to immigration in general. Have you noticed it, too? People of goodwill can certainly disagree about specific policies. However, it’s important for all of us to remember that there are real people, like the Burmese family, behind the statistics. It might help all of us if we come to understand why refugees leave their homes in the first place.
Who are refugees? According to the United Nations Refugee Agency:
- Refugees are forced to flee from their homes because of:
- Refugees have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons related to:
- political opinion
- membership in a particular social group
- Refugees cannot return home or are afraid to do so
Each refugee case is first handled by the UN resettlement program. The UN begins with safety for everyone in mind. Consequently, refugees go through an intense vetting process before being placed in a new home country. The process includes a series of background checks, screenings, and interviews. Our resettlement program in WV has an added requirement: refugees must have “U.S. Ties”. This means that the refugee must have a friend or family member already living here.
Most refugees who resettle in WV are originally from Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, Syria, or Uganda. But no matter where refugees come from, our Migration & Refugee Services program gives people the tools they need to succeed in the U.S. and to gain self-sufficiency quickly.
The role of Catholic Charities WV
As the state’s only resettlement agency, CCWVa walks with refugees and other legal immigrants as they make their new home here. We offer comprehensive case management services to refugees including employment services, and legal assistance. In addition, we partner with members of the communities where refugees are resettled. Some community members volunteer to be a refugee mentor. For example, mentors can assist families with things like:
- Cultural Orientation
- Providing Transportation
- Conversation Buddies
- Community Integration
- Furniture/Supplies collection
- And more!
We also raise awareness about this special group of people. To that end, on June 20 we are joining people from around the world to celebrate World Refugee Day! If you’ll be in Charleston that evening between 5-8 p.m., we hope you’ll join us for our local Refugee Celebration & Art Exhibit. Several refugee artists will showcase their artwork during the event. You can also experience a refugee camp simulation, and enjoy authentic Iraqi cuisine. Most importantly, this is a wonderful opportunity to learn about refugees’ experiences, and to meet your neighbors who have resettled in WV.
RSVP to this free event and get more information here.
6 ways to get involved
- Attend the Refugee Celebration & Art Exhibit (June 20, 2019 in Charleston)
- Gather a group together and sponsor a refugee family (more information here)
- Ask questions
- Help your neighbors understand the plight of refugees
- Make friends with a refugee or immigrant
- Most importantly – Pray! Our world needs lots of love, and God is Love!