For World Refugee Day in Boise, a group of volunteers read to local refugee children. We then did a craft together!
At Monarch Landing, a local shared transitional housing facility for refugees, a volunteer read “Lubna and Pebble” while a youth translated for many of the children. It is a touching story about refugee children and friendship. Afterwards everyone was able to choose a pebble and make it their own. It was a fun and interactive activity that we all enjoyed. A copy of the book was donated to the facility.
One could think that the language barrier was an issue, but it wasn't. A smile is worth a thousand words.
I was once a child in a foreign country, not speaking the language, and I was immersed in a school where no English was spoken. I don't remember much about that process, but I do remember watching other kids, following along, and making friends.
I've been drawn to working with the refugees for numerous reasons. First, I just love to help and serve others in need. Second, I recognize that because I have been given much, I too must give. Third, I was once a child in a foreign country, not speaking the language, and I was immersed in a school where no English was spoken. I don't remember much about that process, but I do remember watching other kids, following along, and making friends. Children are so resilient and they love so easily. It didn't take long for the children to go from being shy, to asking me to sign their rock.
I have enjoyed watching children for refugee parents doing a cultural orientation class. We read a book about shapes and then practiced drawing shapes and writing the shape names. Then we had an activity outside blowing bubbles. We had bubble soap, but no wands, so we were resourceful and made wands out of pipe cleaners. There were lots of smiles and laughter! The most rewarding thing of my day. I look forward to helping again.
I've also helped transport families to a school to register their child for kindergarten. Such a simple thing to me, but such a big need from them. Then I later ran into the father at a local park, where I was watching my grandson play soccer. I'm sure he was grateful to see a familiar face among so many new ones.
We also have an ongoing collection box for donations for local refugee families. We collect bedding, toiletries, kitchen supplies, cleaning supplies, etc.
There really is something that everyone can do. Whether you just have time to donate a hygiene item, or you have an hour to drive a family to school, or you have 3 hours to do activities for children, there is something all of us can do to lift and love our new neighbors.
Want to get more involved in helping local refugees? Opportunities can be found at:JustServe.org
We interviewed Elizabeth Gregg as part of our World Refugee Day event. Elizabeth was first connected with the refugee cause through a Facebook post. One of her friends was creating a sponsor circle for the influx of refugees coming to their community of Seattle, WA. After deciding that participation was possible for their family, Elizabeth got involved.
As part of our World Refugee Day Event, we had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Uzma Jafri. She fills many roles, including physician, business owner, medical director, and most importantly, mother of four. It was during the first few months of her fourth child’s life when Dr. Jafri became interested in refugees. During the countless sleepless nights that accompany newborns, Dr. Jafri would watch coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis. Dr. Jafri felt a pull to help those in the crisis.
During our World Refugee World event, we were able to interview Adrianne Coleman, a volunteer who works with English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Adrianne’s journey to help others started in 5th grade, when a young boy from Iran was in her class. This boy didn’t speak a single word of English, and Adrianne saw how difficult it was for him to integrate into the classroom. Adrianne felt that she could help him, and others like him.