BE COMPASSIONATE | LSSM
Hello, Bonjour, Mingalarba, Salaam alaikum, Namaste, Jambo, Hola!
There are so many ways to get across a similar message, a greeting welcoming someone to enjoy the diversity that makes a community beautiful. Refugees are part of the great melting pot of the United States of America, and their customs and cultures help shape and mold neighborhoods.
A refugee is someone who is forced to leave their homeland and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Persecution can be related to race, religion, nationality, political opinions, or belonging to a certain social group.
Worldwide there are over 40 million forcibly displaced people; this past year, the United States welcomed almost 700,000 refugees into the country. Once a refugee arrives in the USA, various organizations help to resettle them throughout the country. One such organization is Lutheran Social Services of Michigan (LSSM).
The staff and volunteers at LSSM come alongside newly arrived refugees for their first three to six months with a goal of empowering them with the resources they need to become self-sufficient. LSSM helps refugees obtain safe and affordable housing, enroll in ESL classes, connect with local medical providers, and join community and government programs, all while providing assistance to those who are seeking employment.
Learning a new language and new cultural customs in such a short period of time can be quite the challenge. There are many barriers that refugees face during the first few months after their arrival, but refugees are survivors; they dive into the challenges of everyday life in a new place head on and give it their all to create a new and better life for themselves and their families.
Navigating transportation is one barrier most refugees face. Many of them are used to being able to walk everywhere, and none have experienced a Michigan winter, so trudging through a foot of snow to the bus stop is quite a new experience. Funds are tight for refugees, and many of them can’t afford bus passes and have no access to carseats to keep their children safe if they ride with someone in the community or take a medical taxi. Twenty five dollars can provide a refugee child with a safe carseat as they ride to and from doctors appointments and daycare or could provide multiple bus rides for a refugee parent as they ride to and from the grocery store or to their first job interview.
This season, celebrate the diversity that makes our country great, help make someone feel welcome, and empower them to be self-sufficient as they begin to build a new life in a new country. Even a small contribution can make a world of difference.
Copy By Jonathan Schlosser | Photography By Brittany Schlosser