GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — At World Relief Fox Valley, advocates help newly arrived refugees settle into life in the Fox Valley.
“They’ve had to leave their countries because of fear of persecution, war, and violence,” Tami McLaughlin, Office Director for the organization said. “So when they get here they’re ready to really just plant and develop roots and move forward.”
Helping refugees grow those roots is the goal of World Relief Fox Valley.
“We’ve established housing for them, and we start walking alongside them and getting them in a place where they can start to live abundant lives,” McLaughlin explained.
Complications like the coronavirus pandemic have slowed the arrival of refugees over the past year.
“We’ve had about 20 arrive in the past year, so we’re looking forward to those numbers increasing,” McLaughlin said.
Green Bay’s Community Services Agency (COMSA) also works with refugees.
Advocates with the organization hope that days like World Refugee Day help raise awareness of the refugee community in Northeast Wisconsin.
World Refugee Day is observed internationally on June 20th.
“Refugees are in all sectors of our lives,” President Said Hassan said. “They were essential workers, they are doctors, they are nurses, they’re also teachers. And they are also community advocates. So we are calling upon the leaders around us to come and join us and support the refugees within the community.”
COMSA is always looking for volunteers to lend a hand with its programming.
“Programs such as after school program, youth mentorship program, we have summer food program running on right now, we have summer school going on as we speak,” Hassan listed.
According to Hassan, working together can help the host community understand the refugee community.
“Everything they loved they left behind,” he said of refugees, “so it’s a huge need from the host community to understand the trauma that the refugee carries.”
Opening those lines of communication can unlock opportunity for refugees and host communities alike.
“What a great opportunity this is for us in Wisconsin to welcome people who are going to contribute so much to our communities and just make us a better place to be,” McLaughlin said.