Written by Scott Ellis, Volunteer Coordinator at World Relief Seattle
When heartbreaking pictures and video from halfway around the world begin to appear on the news, in the papers, and even on our Facebook feeds it is hard not to feel a range of emotions. Seeing the haunting images and hearing the stories of the families connected to them often brings emotions of grief, sadness and even anger. After these emotions often come questions.
What can I do? Where do I even start? This problem seems so big…
For those here in Seattle seeing tragic images of Syrians and other refugees fleeing into Europe, one answer to these questions is to come alongside the work that is already happening locally and across the globe by Learning, Responding, and Welcoming.
According to the UNHCR’s latest figures, 7.6 million Syrians are displaced within Syria, and 3.8 million have sought refuge in other countries. This video by statistician Hans Rosling breaks down where Syrians are right now.
Due to the long vetting process that includes medical checks, several interviews and intensive background checks, only about 1,500 Syrians have been resettled into United States so far. We at World Relief Seattle have yet to receive our first Syrian case, but other World Relief offices across the US have resettled families. We are preparing for them to come shortly, while at the same time resettling refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries facing turmoil.
World Relief Seattle has been welcoming and resettling refugees into Western Washington since 1979. Our experience over those years has taught us that we are not meant to do this alone and so we invite local churches and the whole community to come alongside us in the work of empowering refugees who are arriving here weekly.
Pray – We have developed seven major prayer requests that begin to encompass the vast, often immeasurable needs of this vulnerable group. This Sunday – September 13, 2015, we are inviting all churches and Christian Leaders to take a moment in your services and gatherings to discuss the incredible humanitarian tragedy faced by Syrian refugees and those fleeing persecution around the globe.
Advocate – Call your Senator and Congressional representatives to tell them you are in support of Syrian resettlement in the U.S., and encourage your church to rally behind the cause and do the same. Sign the White House petition for the U.S. to resettle more Syrian refugees.
Give: To give directly to World Relief’s work in Northern Iraq, Jordan and soon Turkey, click here.
- Urgent Supplies – World Relief is providing urgent supplies for refugees like temporary shelter, hygiene items, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and more. Supporting a refugee family with a kit of supplies in a place like Northern Iraq costs on average $550.
- Trauma Therapy – World Relief is empowering local churches to provide therapy for women who have experienced unspeakable atrocities at the hands of Islamic State fighters. One Syrian refugee in Jordan said, “We have made so many friends. One day a week, I walk into this place and I can breathe.” The cost to provide trauma therapy for one woman for a year is $100.
- Child Friendly Spaces – World Relief is working with local churches to provide child-friendly spaces for children to have a safe place to play, get basic education, process the trauma they have experienced, and be ministered to by loving Christians. This ministry costs about $120 for each child for one year.
World Relief Seattle will welcome its first Syrian family in the coming months and there are several ways you can come alongside us in that effort.
World Relief Resettlement Services – Here in the US, World Relief works with local churches to welcome thousands of refugees every year. These refugees are supported with ESL classes, job training, house support, and in relationship with Christians from a local church. Supporting the financial needs of refugee family making a transition to life in America costs about $3,500.
To give directly to Refugee Resettlement in Seattle, click here.
Hosting, Housing and Welcoming Refugees – TACOMA We are having a special training for families and individuals who wish to welcome refugees into our communities. We will be focusing on the following topics:
- How to HOST families for 1-2 weeks or RENT directly to refugee families in need of sustainable housing
- How to WELCOME refugees as Cultural Companions in one-on-one relationships
- How to COME ALONGSIDE those seeking Asylum at the Northwest Immigration Detention Center
What: A training for volunteers who wish to come alongside new refugee families in Western Washington
When: Friday November 20th 5:30pm – 8:00pm
Where: University Place Presbyterian Church – 8101 27th St W, University Place, Washington 98466
RSVP: Please RSVP to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 15th
The training will also go over the mission of World Relief to empower local churches and communities to respond to the needs of newcomers. We will talk about who refugees are, where they are coming from and why.
If you have any questions about World Relief Seattle or want to learn more about how you can welcome refugees, please visit our website www.worldreliefseattle.org