March 3, 2021

 

U.S. citizen Aumonae Johnson met her fiancé, Siafa, in 2016 during one of her annual mission trips to Liberia, where she was born. She describes how their "souls connnected" when they met. Aumonae and Siafa quickly entered into a relationship and have been together in their "journey of love and faith." They stay connected through technology, especially Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but cherish their time together during Aumonae's annual trips to Liberia. Two years ago, on July 26, 2019, Siafa asked Aumonae to marry him while she was visiting LIberia and she said yes! After returning to the United States, she filed a fiancé via petition for Siafa that was approved in April 2020. Aumonae was hoping that the visa processing at the U.S. Embassy would happen quickly, as is typical with fiancé visa cases, and she would be able to return to the United States from Liberia with Siafa in August 2020. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, Siafa's visa has been delayed indefinitely, causing the couple emotional, menal, and financial strain: 

"Being apart has no way been easy. Our strong communication and our faith have kept us going...a process that usually takes nine months has taken almost two years from start to finish. It has been very stressful and it has taken a serious toll on us mentally, financially, and health wise. Families are supposed to be together, not apart. We cannot even plan a wedding because we do not know what to expect. My prayer and hope is that all families are reconnected. (The separation) is very frustrating and I hope something is done soon. I want to continue to make beautiful and lasting memories with my husband-to-be. We have been patiently waiting. I know that it is God's will for me and Siafa to be together."

Aumonae is a client with our Immigration Legal Services Clinic. Her story is one that illustrates the but one of the challenges immigrants can face when trying to reunify with family and loved ones. Your support of World Relief Durham has made our clinic's work possible, even during a time of reduced refugee arrivals and massive challenges to visas and citizenship pathways. Thank you for helping us keep the faith with clients like Aumonae and Siafa. 

January 19, 2021

 

Ornella fled Cameroon with her family due to war and resettled in Durham, NC with the help of World Relief in 2017, when she was just 17 years old. Her mother and many family members tragically died prior to her arrival. Ornella had little English, but she held - and maintains - a firm belief that God has a purpose for her here in the U.S. 

Within just a few years, Ornella has become fluent in English, a graduate of Jordan High School, a student at Durham Technical Community College, a camp counselor, a trusted and beloved friend, and a valued member of All Saints Church in Durham. Ornella acknowledges that the road to community integration had many challenges. “It wasn’t easy for me to come to a new country not knowing the language. But I like to be around people who talk a lot, and I learned English faster that way!” 

She particularly credits World Relief Durham’s mentorship program with providing meaningful social interaction, health and wellness education, and support for her efforts to learn English, get a driver’s licence, find a job, and more. Mentorship Coordinator, Selina Máté has provided consistent and compassionate mentoring to Ornella through high school and beyond. “Selina changed my life. She said that things would get better, she told me to keep going. I used to think I was alone, but I took Selina’s advice and moved forward with my life. Selina is like a sister to me!” 

Selina feels the same about her relationship with this remarkable young woman. “Working with Ornella has been one of the biggest joys of my time at World Relief. Our journey together has encapsulated what a true mentorship journey looks like - growth, difficulties, celebrations, and togetherness. Ornella has turned to the World Relief Durham team with every hardship she has faced over the last year. While some have been especially tough situations, it has been an honor to be entrusted with that role. Alongside the challenges, Ornella has shared every celebration with us. We’ve had the opportunity to watch her graduate high school, begin her first job, and start college. Meeting Ornella has been nothing but a blessing and I am thankful to have spent the last year mentoring her while she begins to navigate adult life.”

Ornella radiates joy; she is truly unforgettable and has a bright future ahead of her. Her ability to find the positive, to create a new life for herself in a different country, to become a successful scholar and employee, and to inspire her friends at World Relief Durham and throughout her new hometown is beyond admirable. Though COVID-19 is changing her plans and limiting her interactions, this resilient woman is undeterred: “The virus can stop me from going outside, but it won’t stop me from continuing my education. Life keeps going on, and I have all the support I need. Why would I complain? I am so thankful to God.”

September 24, 2020

COVID-19 IMPACT REPORT

News for the Volunteer & Donor-Heroes of World Relief Durham

Dear friends,

THANK YOU for your tremendously kind support of our refugee and immigrant neighbors throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Your generosity has provided critical support for some of the most marginalized members of our community, whose vulnerabilities have heightened in the wake of the pandemic. Thank you for being a force for good during such a challenging time.

After losing his job a month into the COVID-19 crisis, Mohammed didn't know how he was going to pay for rent and food for his wife and three children. Having received resettlement support from World Relief Durham when he came to the US as a refugee, he knew he could turn to us for compassionate support. Thanks to your kindness, Mohammed and his family were able to cover their rent and meet other basic needs while being supported to find new employment.

Since the pandemic began, we've assisted hundreds of refugees and immigrants like Mohammed with rent, urgent living expenses, and food aid; assisted clients in accessing unemployment services; held virtual driver's education and ESL classes; offered virtual bilingual academic tutoring for students in partnership with Durham Public Schools and the United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT); provided critical immigration legal services, and more. We recognize that all of this is possible because of your generosity.

Thank you for standing with our refugee and immigrant neighbors as they continue to face difficulties and uncertainty with resilience and strength. It is an honor to partner with you to make our community a place where all can flourish together.

Adam Clark, Office Director

 

YOUR IMPACT

Your partnership has provided essential support for 320 refugees and immigrants in our community since the pandemic started through the following innovative, multilingual, and culturally responsive programs and services:

COVID-19 public health outreach: Disseminated critical COVID-19 information and public health safety information in 11 languages utilizing a multilingual texting app; provided masks to hundreds of vulnerable families; ensuring ongoing public health education and mental health support through COVID-19 community ambassadors working with refugee clients.

Unemployment relief: 30 households were assisted in accessing unemployment assistance and pandemic relief services.

Rent assistance and food aid was provided to more than 60 families struggling to meet basic needs due to pandemic related job losses, thanks to funding from UWGT and the Durham Congregations in Action Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Churches and volunteers delivered food to families hardest hit by COVID-19, including produce boxes donated by Woodcrest Farms and 70 50-lb. bags of rice donated by Islamic Relief USA through Rise Against Hunger

Technology distribution: Provided 47 laptops and tablets to ESL and Driver's Education course participants for virtual learning, and provided technology literacy support.

Virtual youth tutoring & enrichment: All bilingual academic tutoring sessions were transitioned to virtual delivery for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, and have resumed for the 2020-2021 school year in partnership with Durham Public Schools and UWGT. Thanks to UWGT and The Triangle Community Foundation, 50 youth participated in a virtual three-week camp and provided camp kits with hands-on learning activities.

Family reunification & status renewal legal services were provided for 39 clients and their families, including DACA application preparations.

Advocacy: Coordinated advocacy letter writing from WRD, community partners, and partner churches to advocate for DACA and release of migrants from ICE detention.

 

 

 

March 16, 2020

COVID-19 FAQs for Volunteers

As we navigate the rapidly changing environment, know that we are with you, and we hope you will continue to stand with the most vulnerable. Our team is assessing the situation and quickly developing the best response possible in program areas around the world.

We, like many, feel anxious and fearful of what the future holds as the global COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty loom large – for ourselves, our families, our volunteers and those we serve in some of the most vulnerable situations. Yet, we find comfort in our faith, as we are called to do in scripture:

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

At times like these, the social distinctions that separate us are stripped away, and we are humbled. We are all in this together. As a volunteer, we suspect you have known this all along.

We are aware that the spread of coronavirus may be causing concern right here in your own community. Our priority, as always, is to ensure that everyone has the most up to date advice and the support they need and that their health is not put at risk.

With that in mind, please discuss any specific health concerns you have with your healthcare provider. They will be able to give you advice and information which takes into account your specific circumstances.

The health and safety of the World Relief family, including volunteers, community partners, participants and staff, is our top priority. We continue to track the COVID-19 outbreak so we can stay on top of any potential impact on our programs.

Should there be any changes to the status of our programs and services, we will communicate with you via email, social media and website platforms.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 outbreak as well as how World Relief is monitoring the situation.

What is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.” Symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath, and appear between two and 14 days after exposure.

What is World Relief doing to monitor and prepare for COVID-19?

World Relief is actively monitoring the spread of the virus. We are also following advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, State Health Department and Local Health Departments. Our COVID 19 internal Task Force have been in regular discussions to assess any potential risk to our volunteers, participants and staff and to plan for various scenarios related to the outbreak.

What measures has World Relief implemented to protect current volunteers, participants, and staff?

We have distributed information about how to stay safe, and we are reiterating the CDC’s guidelines for hygiene and disease prevention.

· We ask that volunteers, participants, and staff take the following precautions to keep themselves healthy and protect others:

· If you are feeling sick or having signs of a cold or cough, please stay home and rest.

· Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, please use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

· Cover all coughs and sneezes with a tissue, dispose of the tissue immediately in a wastebasket, and proceed to wash one’s hands.

· Keep a healthy distance from people who are coughing and sneezing.

· Disinfect frequently-used surfaces such as laptops, work-spaces, cell phones, keys, and doorknobs.

· Avoid touching your face and mouth.

· If a family member is experiencing signs of the flu, cough, or cold, please do not attend World Relief volunteer activities or gatherings.

Are there translations of basic Coronavirus information in languages commonly spoken by the populations World Relief serves?

The following reference materials provide a number of materials in diverse languages.

Novel Coronavirus Fact Sheet - Available in 11 languages

COVID-19 Multi-lingual Education Materials from the CDC - Available in multiple languages

 

What would cause a World Relief Program, Activity or Event to be suspended?

World Relief is following guidance from the CDC, WHO, U.S. State Department, State Health Departments and Local Health Departments. The health and safety of our volunteers, participants, staff, and community members is our number one priority. We will communicate directly with these groups if we make any changes to our scheduled activities and programs.

How will volunteers be notified of any changes or cancellations of classes, appointments and other activities?

A communication will be sent out via each local World Relief office’s email and social media platforms, in addition to updates posted on each World Relief office website. Phone calls will be implemented in cases where there is need for direct communication.

How often can volunteers expect communication from World Relief regarding coronavirus updates?

We will communicate any new information about our programs or protocols directly to volunteers. Should you have any questions, or wish to talk with someone at your local office, please feel free to reach out via email (sbaldwin@wr.org) or through the local office website.

Each volunteer should keep up to date on the situation, alerts, and communications of the state and local public health authorities for your area of volunteering. These can be found here for U.S. locations.

How long should a quarantine extend?

Because COVID-19 is spread through direct person-to-person contact, WR will, at this time based on current CDC advice, require a sick employee or an employee with a sick relative in their residence to self-quarantine for 14 days (10 business days). The quarantine is necessary for the welfare of others within World Relief work and programs.

How can I continue to create a welcoming community and connect with our vulnerable international neighbors and friends amidst Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in our community?

CONNECT REMOTELY

Continue to build relationships utilizing technology!

- Conduct English Tutoring sessions over the phone or computer (Google and Microsoft are offering free web conferencing)

- Create a daily or weekly conversational topic list together that will increase your knowledge and understanding of one another via phone or computer.

- Video Call each other while you cook the same recipe together.

- Take a Virtual trip together! Click here and pick a destination. Experience something new together.

- Be creative! Take advantage of some of the additional time you may have to continue connecting with your international neighbor.

PRAY

Together, let’s continue to be unwavering in trusting God’s plan. Here are 4 specific things you can pray for in the midst of fear and anxiety:

1. Immigrants and refugees in our community who lack access to healthcare. Pray that we can maintain services to them through our offices.

2. Vulnerable people in countries where World Relief works, specifically in the Congo where the first reported case of coronavirus has been confirmed.

3. Immigrants and refugees in our community who lack access to healthcare. Pray that we can maintain services to them through our offices.

4. That we will be a witness for Christ in turbulent times ministering for our neighbors who are out of work, struggling to pay healthcare bills and are particularly vulnerable to disease.

5. Each other.

July 2, 2019

PARA SU PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA
2 de julio de 2019
 

World Relief Durham abre un Centro de Servicio Legales de Inmigración para servir a la comunidad

El centro ofrece consultas sobre inmigración a bajo costo, contesta a preguntas con respeto a la elegibilidad para la ciudadanía y mucho más

 

DURHAM, N.C.– World Relief Durham abrió oficialmente su Centro de Servicios Legales de Inmigración en junio, para servir a los inmigrantes y refugiados en Carolina del Norte. El centro, certificado por el Departamento de Justicia, ofrece consultas sobre inmigración a bajo costo y proporciona la oportunidad de que los inmigrantes pregunten a representantes legales acerca de su elegibilidad para la ciudadanía, DACA, solicitudes familiares, residencia permanente legal y servicios de inmigración para víctimas.

 

“Venir a EE. UU. es un viaje increíblemente difícil para muchos inmigrantes; por no mencionar intentar entender los procesos legales en EE. UU. y el idioma una vez que llegan”, dijo Kjerstin Lewis, Gerente del Programa de Servicios Legales de Inmigración de World Relief Durham. “Estoy muy contenta por poder ofrecer estos servicios a la comunida de inmigrantes y refugiados de Durham, para que puedan obtener respuesta a cualquier pregunta que tengan y para que sepan que estamos a su lado”.

 

Kjerstin, que estaba previamente en la oficina de Baltimore de World Relief, se convirtió en una representante legal del Departamento de Justicia, con acreditación parcial, lo cual le permitió practicar derecho de inmigración y servir a más de 150 familias en solicitudes de ciudadanía, green cards, solicitudes de visa familiar, DACA y mucho más.

 

Todos los potenciales clientes comienzan concertando una consulta con el representante legal de World Relief Durham para revisar su elegibilidad antes de comenzar un caso. El Centro de Servicios Legales de Inmigración de Durham ofrece las consultas a $50, y los servicios se proporcionan a una fracción del costo de los que proporcionan los abogados privados.

 

World Relief tiene actualmente 17 centros de Servicios Legales de Inmigración y 41 iglesias asociados que ofrecen servicios legales en todo el país. Durham es uno de los lugares que han comenzado a ofrecer sus servicios a la comunidad de inmigrante más amplia. 

 

“Durante 12 años, World Relief Durham ha reunido a nuestra comunidad para dar la bienvenida a sus nuevos vecinos y estamos entusiasmados por poder ofrecer este recurso a nuestros vecinos refugiados e inmigrantes”, dijo Adam Clark, Director de World Relief Durham.

 

Para obtener más información o programar una cita para ayuda, llame al (919) 251-8624 o visite https://worldreliefdurham.org/centro-inmigracion.

 

 

Sobre World Relief:

 

World Relief es una organización humanitaria cristiana de carácter global que intenta superar la violencia, la pobreza y la injusticia. A través del amor en acción, llevamos esperanza, curación y reparación a millones de las mujeres, hombres y niños más vulnerables del mundo mediante programas vitales y sostenibles en respuesta a desastres, la salud y el desarrollo infantil, el desarrollo económico y la construcción de la paz, así como servicios para refugiados y de inmigración en los E.E. U.U. Durante 75 años, nos hemos asociado con iglesias y comunidades, actualmente en más de 20 países, para proporcionar ayuda a los que sufren y para ayudar a que la gente reconstruya sus vidas.

 

Obtenga más información en worldreliefdurham.org.

 

CONTACTO
Madeline Ingram​
ingram@pinkstongroup.com
​571-326-3090

 

 

            

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July 2, 2019

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
July 2, 2019

                                 

CONTACT
Madeline Ingram
ingram@pinkstongroup.com
571-326-3090

 

World Relief Durham Opens Immigration Legal Services Center to Serve Community 

Center offers low-cost immigration consultations, answers questions regarding eligibility for citizenship and more

 

DURHAM, N.C.– World Relief Durham officially opened its Immigration Legal Services Center to serve immigrants and refugees in North Carolina in June. Certified and recognized by the Department of Justice, the center offers low-cost immigration consultations to the community and provides an opportunity for immigrants to ask legal representatives their questions regarding eligibility for citizenship, DACA, family petitions, lawful permanent residence and victim-based immigration services.

 

“Coming to the U.S. is an incredibly difficult journey for many immigrants – not to mention trying to grasp the U.S.’s legal processes and language once they arrive,” said Kjerstin Lewis, Immigration Legal Services Program Manager for World Relief Durham. “I’m so excited to offer these services to Durham’s immigrant and refugee community, to be able to answer any questions they have and to let them know we’re on their side.”

 

Previously based in World Relief’s Baltimore office, Kjerstin became a partially-accredited DOJ legal representative which allowed her to practice immigration law and serve over 150 families in applications for citizenship, green cards, family visa petitions, DACA and more since 2016.

 

All potential clients begin by setting up a consultation with World Relief Durham’s legal representative to review their eligibility before starting a case. Durham’s ILS Center offers the consultation for $50, and the services provided are a fraction of the cost of those provided by private attorneys.

World Relief currently has 17 ILS sites and 41 church partners offering legal services across the country. Durham’s is one of several sites that are beginning to offer their services to the broader immigrant community. 

“World Relief Durham has been rallying our community to welcome and support its new neighbors for 12 years, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer our refugee and immigrant neighbors this resource,” said Adam Clark, Director of World Relief Durham.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for assistance, please call (919) 251-8624 or visit https://worldreliefdurham.org/legal. 

 

About World Relief:

 

World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that seeks to overcome violence, poverty and injustice. Through love in action, we bring hope, healing and restoration to millions of the world’s most vulnerable women, men and children through vital and sustainable programs in disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding, as well as refugee and immigration services in the U.S. For 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and communities, currently across more than 20 countries, to provide relief from suffering and help people rebuild their lives.

 

Learn more at worldreliefdurham.org.

 

 

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June 27, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 27, 2019

 

CONTACT

Lauren Carl

carl@pinkstongroup.com

703-388-6734

 

World Relief Durham Receives $2,500 from Duke Energy Foundation Grant for RISE Summer Camp

 

DURHAM, N.C. – World Relief Durham is honored to be the recipient of a $2,500 grant from theDuke Energy Foundation’s K-12 Education program to support its Youth Refugee and Immigrant Summer Enrichment (RISE) camp. The RISE camp offers a culturally and linguistically supportive environment for local immigrant youth, helping them avoid summer learning loss.

 

The Duke Energy Foundation believes that every child deserves a fair chance at academic success. Their K-12 Education program grants support organizations that address summer reading loss experienced by rising kindergartners through rising third-graders and that advance energy, engineering and environmental education through student programming or teacher professional development. Programs, like World Relief Durham’s summer RISE camp, that serve under-represented, low-income or diverse audiences and extend into out-of-school time, are given preference for the grant.

 

“We’re thrilled and honored to receive this grant from the Duke Energy Foundation for our 2019 RISE camp,” said Adam Clark, Director of World Relief Durham. “Transitioning to life in the U.S. is extremely difficult for families, and especially children. There’s a significant need in the Durham community’s school system for native language support for immigrant youth, and it’s a need that’s close to our hearts. We’re excited to use these funds to continue expanding RISE and help more students thrive and integrate seamlessly into Durham’s schools.”  

 

“World Relief Durham is an exemplary candidate for the K-12 grant,” said Indira Everett, District Manager of Government and Community Relations for the Duke Energy Foundation. “We look forward to continuing to see the fruit of this unique program, and we’re proud to support our immigrant neighbors and their children through this grant”

 

This generous one-time gift will provide World Relief Durham the ability to better serve the K-12 immigrant youth who will be attending this summer’s camp and allow more youth to participate. World Relief Durham began its RISE camp in 2017 to help students thrive academically and recently expanded its year-round academic support program to three public schools serving between 100 and 150 students.

 

This year’s RISE camp begins July 15th and will run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at Jordan High School. For more information on this program, visit https://worldreliefdurham.org/.

 

 

About World Relief:

 

World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that seeks to overcome violence, poverty and injustice. Through love in action, we bring hope, healing and restoration to millions of the world’s most vulnerable women, men and children through vital and sustainable programs in disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding, as well as refugee and immigration services in the U.S. For 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and communities, currently across more than 20 countries, to provide relief from suffering and help people rebuild their lives.

 

Learn more at worldrelief.org.

 

About Duke Energy Foundation:

 

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy’s customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the Foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at duke-energy.com/foundation.

 

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January 22, 2018

Advocating for the Marginalized 

by Pastor Bill Bigger or Hope Valley Baptist Church

Given the political rhetoric of recent days and weeks, I am dealing with a variety of emotions and want to share an experience I recently had. I spent some time visiting with a young man who came with his family to be our guests at Hope House less than 48 hours before. Hope House is brick ranch home on our church property that we renovated to temporary shelter to refugees when they first arrive in the country through World Relief.

Though our new guest, his wife, and 3 preschoolers are still adjusting to a country and time zone very different than their own, he saw me in the church parking lot and invited me to come sit down in the house and offered me some tea. We had met briefly the day before, and he seemed eager to talk and to express his gratitude for a nice place to stay for several weeks while more permanent housing is being found. He told me that this transition is “very difficult,” but his spirit so impressed me. While his wife speaks almost no English, she sat with us and was very gracious as well. One of the young children was asleep on the couch, another was asleep in a bedroom, and a 4-year old fell asleep on her father’s lap while we talked (though it was 10:45 am in Durham, it would have been 8:45 pm back in their homeland). When I commented on how cute and precious the children are, he translated for his wife, and they both broke out into huge smiles that resembled the joyful smiles of every other proud parent I have ever met. I certainly grinned as I watched him pat his daughter’s back as she dozed off on his lap and wondered how many times I had done the same thing with one of my children when they were young. I didn’t see a “refugee.” I saw a husband and father and new friend who loves his wife and his children.

This husband/father spent some years as a translator for the US Special Forces and knows 5 languages, but when I asked him what kind of work he would be seeking, he noted that he is not ashamed to take any job and simply wanted to work to provide for his family. I was almost tearful as I listened to him talk about some of his experiences and as I sensed his kind heart and warm spirit. Though I think that he and his family are Muslim, I felt like I was beginning a friendship and recognized that we share much in common as husbands and fathers. I look forward to spending more time getting to know him, listening to his stories, and seeing how he and his wife love their precious children. I was blessed by this short visit.

I generally avoid sharing political thoughts or opinions on social media and am glad that I get to serve a church which has members from all across the political spectrum. I don’t always agree with the social media posts by my fellow church members and friends, and not everyone will agree with what I say. Still, though, we are brothers and sisters who belong to each other and need each other. We are called to love others as we have been loved by God.

In light of recent news stories, however, I want to speak my heart and say that regardless of our varying opinions on immigration and refugee resettlement and how it should be done, I was reminded again during this visit that amidst the labels and acronyms being tossed about so casually, we are talking about individuals and families who simply want to make the best life they can for their loved ones. As Christians, and frankly as people in general, we must not accept attempts to label people negatively based on their nationality, their ethnicity, their language, or their socio-economic background. The more time I get to spend with refugees and recent immigrants, the more impressed I am by their courage, their determination, and their commitment to seek freedom and a better life in order to take care of those who are precious to them. Most are still concerned about loved ones back in their home countries where it is often far from safe. I can't imagine what it would be like to walk in their shoes.

Amidst the rhetoric and news coverage, please remember that every one of these people whose futures are being tossed about as pawns in a political game are beloved by God and are created in the image of God. They are individuals with hopes and dreams who deserve our love, our compassion, our care, and our warm hospitality. I still have a lot of learning and growing to do and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I am praying that I will be the kind of person who loves and advocates for the marginalized, the vulnerable, and those too easily overlooked and dismissed.

March 7, 2016

"After many months of training and anticipation with the other members of our Good Neighbor Team (from The Church of the Good Shepherd), it was a real joy for my family and me to finally meet our new Syrian friends at the airport. They have been on a long journey since departing their home country, exacerbated by the difficult health challenges that twelve-year old Aya faces.

We shook hands and exchanged greetings. My girls (ages 9 and 7) mostly communicated with Aya through shy glances that soon became playful smiles and hugs. During the short time at the airport with Aya, her mother, and her aunt, we had more questions than answers about their story and circumstances. We told them that we represent several local families who have been preparing for their arrival for many months. We shared our excitement of their becoming our neighbors from a faraway land. My wife, Sarah, brought them food and drinks as we waited for luggage and arranged logistics to get them to the hospital and then to their apartment. As the luggage conveyor belt began circulating in the baggage area, Sarah presented our small gifts to the weary travelers.

 
 

As we later reflected on this first meeting with our new friends from Syria, we marveled at how much courage, stamina, and hope they must have to come into a new and very different country and to encounter smiling strangers, while enduring the long wait with smiles and gratitude. We are blessed to have three new neighbors in our town and look forward to becoming good friends."

-Aaron McKethan (Good Neighbor Team Member)

 

November 4, 2015

First impressions can matter a great deal, especially when traveling to a new place that is to become your new home.

When refugees first arrive at the RDU airport, they are exhausted from their long journeys to the United States and are overwhelmed with the unfamiliarity of the new environment and culture. Some arrive without family or friends for comfort and support, making the transition even more taxing. This is where World Relief Durham’s Welcome Teams come in. Welcome Teams---comprised of two to eight people---are the first the greet partnered refugees and welcome them to their new homes in North Carolina. The Welcome Team assists refugees with their luggage, drives them to their new apartments, goes over a brief housing/safety checklist, and leaves them with a culturally appropriate meal. Once their new international friends have been settled in, the Welcome Team goes on their way, hopefully to meet up with them again in the future.

Nural Amin (pictured right) is a Burmese refugee who was resettled in the Triangle through World Relief Durham. He fled his home in Burma in 1994 due to the armed conflict, and he and his family have lived in a refugee camp in Bangladesh ever since. In Bangladesh, they were not allowed to leave the refugee camp, and Burmese refugees were disliked by the local people. Life continued to be difficult for him, especially when he lost his leg in an accident a year ago.

When he arrived in the United States, he didn’t know anyone, as he was forced to leave his wife and children behind in Bangladesh. He and another Burmese refugee were on the same flight and were greeted by the same Welcome Team and interpreter at RDU. Their Welcome Team made a sign for them and presented them with gifts: Duke baseball caps and Nalgene water bottles. Nural Amin says it felt nice to have someone waiting for him there at the airport and that it gave him hope for the freedom he would experience living in America.

The Welcome Team that greeted Nural Amin upon his arrival was the Smith family: Jordan, Trevor, and their kids (pictured left). With three young children and a fourth on the way, Jordan and Trevor weren’t quite ready to commit to a volunteer position with a lengthy or regular time commitment, so the Welcome Team was a perfect fit. Being new to the area, they saw it as a way to get more involved with their community outside of church, to grow more aware of different people groups, and to introduce their children to a new pocket of Durham.

Jordan says that the refugees they welcomed were very quiet and tired from the journey. Because the men didn’t speak English, Jordan and her family relied on an interpreter, another Burmese refugee, to communicate with them. After bringing the men to their new apartment, they provided them with a meal of chicken, rice, green beans, and baklava---a taste of home in an unfamiliar place. She says that the most rewarding part of her volunteer experience was getting to watch her kids get excited and curious about refugees in general and getting to respond to the major news headlines about the refugee crisis. “We’ve learned a lot about Burma this week, and it was a real honor to get to be a part of these men’s arrival,” she says.

Welcome Teams are a great volunteer choice for those interested in forming connections with refugees in a group setting and for a short period of time. They are an ideal way to test if you’d be a good fit for one of WRD’s more long-term commitments, like Friendship partners or Good Neighbor Teams. Consider forming a Welcome Team and standing for the vulnerable as they first arrive in the United States.

[Article by: Rachel Hagerman]

July 3, 2013

Here at World Relief of the Triangle, things can get so busy that it is hard to find time for the small things, such as maintaining the vehicles that we use each day to transport clients. We want to thank Vic and Bob, two volunteers who helped to clean and repair our three vehicles. Clients can now ride comfortably in our vehicles. It's thanks to volunteers like Vic and Bob that WRD can continue to serve refugees as best we can. Thank you Vic and Bob!   If you are interested in having your car as clean as our vehicles, contact Vic at The Durham Ritz Car Wash and Detail Center for a cleaning!

June 19, 2013

Nathan and his family were first introduced to Leng Mang’s family after an urgent email was sent out late one Friday night from World Relief of the Triangle asking for brief housing while a refugee family’s apartment was being prepared.

“My wife and I decided this would be a great opportunity to serve refugees and to use our home that God has blessed us with as a ministry tool,” Nathan said. “I have been involved with World Relief of the Triangle in the past, but have wanted to find other ways to be involved.”

Leng Mang’s family arrived to the U.S. on May 6th and stayed with Nathan and his family until May 10th. By the end of the week, the two families had bonded over meals and watching their kids play outside.

On May 10th Nathan helped the family move into their new apartment. Since then, the entire family has been enrolled in ESL classes and they are settling in nicely.

“Aung Win has a two hour commute to ESL classes each day, but he has such a great attitude about it,” Nathan said, “It’s evident that he is grateful that he has the opportunity to learn English, even though it may require riding on 3 different buses to get there. I could learn a lot from his perspective on life, particularly during times when I am prone to complain while sitting in my car in traffic.”


Nathan says that he believes that his family was very blessed by the experience of hosting Leng Mang’s family, “We are so thankful that the Lord has allowed our family to develop a friendship with them.”The two families loved getting to know each other, and their friendship is concrete proof of the connections and work being done here at World Relief of the Triangle. For anyone that is interested in finding other ways to serve, hosting a family is an excellent way.

Throughout their stay and as their friendship continues, the two families find ways to communicate despite language discrepancies.

“Though there is a language barrier,” Nathan said, “we have been able to communicate through broken English, the iBurmese app, and lots of sign language.”

Out of all the things that the two families did together, what Nathan and his wife enjoyed most was watching Leng Mang and his family interact with their children, two of which are 8-month-old twins.

“Leng Mang, Aung Win and Len Len Aung are always fighting over who gets to hold them! We often heard Leng Mang singing to the babies while he was holding them. It was so precious.”

Nathan and his wife plan to continue serving in this way. However, next time a similar situation occurs, the family may do a few things differently.

In particular concerning their preparation of typical American dishes.

“We’ll have to remember the next time we host a Burmese family not to cook pork chops…”

If you are interested in finding ways to serve, including hosting a family, contact Kaylee Baker at kbaker@wr.org for more information.