I don’t know whether or not I have shared this before, but I am very fortunate to live in a community that is called the most diverse square mile in the country. The community is this diverse because many of my neighbors are in the country because they are refugees. Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. They are uprooted from their lives, families, and livelihoods. They have a variety of skills and education levels. They have survived traumas too numerous to count. They are also some of the most resilient people I have ever met.
86% of refugees will never resettle in a wealthy country like the U.S. In this case, we should support organizations that assist refugees in the developing world. However, that means that 14% of refugees are our neighbors. Being a refugee is disempowering. You are stripped of everything you know and often can only qualify for jobs far below your education or skill level. Yet, I have seen refugees, who have become my friends, from the Congo, Central African Republic, and Syria make amazing and rich lives out of the pieces which they were left. It is beautiful to see.
That is why this week’s suggestion of how you can change the world is to serve refugees. Most major cities have neighborhoods like that in which I live… neighborhoods filled with resettled refugee people. Make a point to serve them. The relationships you will build will benefit you infinitely more than it will them.
There are several ways to serve these communities. Here are a few:
- Volunteer with a local organization to teach ESL classes or tutor children
- Provide transportation to job interviews, etc.
- Help refugees work on their resumes and job applications
- Visit a family and help them practice English
And there are several more.
My friends who are refugees have become some of my most cherished relationships, and I hope you can find ways to serve this amazing group of people as well.