By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer
June 20, 2020- Refugees come from all around the world, each with an incredibly complex story and unimaginable struggles that have brought them to the areas where they have resettled. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, 500 to 700 refugees arrive in Cleveland every year. They arrive with hope, seeking an opportunity for a new, safer life.
You may be wondering, “Is there anything that I can do to help?”
The biggest difference you can make is by standing in solidarity with refugees. Learn the stories of those displaced, and if you know someone who has been displaced, reach out to them to ask how they are doing. Every step—big and small—counts. On this World Refugee Day, we challenge you to take a step-in solidarity with the refugees of our communities.
Another thing you can do is to assist refugee service organizations throughout northern Ohio by dropping off supplies they are collecting or making a donation to a center. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer who works directly with refugees, there is an abundance of opportunities to serve as a youth mentor, adult/family mentor, an English tutor, or to assist in moving individuals into new apartments or houses. If you have a business background, you could educate on financial literacy or serve as a business development consultant or mentor to help men and women trying to start a new business. The opportunities are endless.
One initiative run by the American Red Cross to help refugees is Restoring Family Links.
“The American Red Cross helps to reconnect families separated by war, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies,” said Jessica Tischler, regional International Services program director for Northern Ohio.
Requests can be made directly to the Red Cross to try and locate family members who they were in contact with before an emergency situation occurred. If you would like to initiate an international search for a family member, you can contact the Northern Ohio Region Director for International Services at 216-496-2998 or the helpline at 844-782-9441.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer