Finding a New Home: the Role of Faith-Based Organisations in Refugee Assistance and Refugee Resettlement Work
Brief summary of presentation of information made
- Felipe Queipo -DPI Last year the UN launched the Together Campaign. The aim is to change the narrative to one of respect, security and dignity for all. Against bigotry and for human rights. Address the poverty of being unloved, unwanted and uncared for.
In defence of the refugee crisis in WW2 “perhaps the world didn’t know” but that cannot said of this crisis.
- Jean Bingham- LDS Charities (Latter Day Saints) Refugees need support as well as provision. Education – language and cultural orientation. Individually we can help but collectively we can do more
- Anwar Khan -Islamic Relief & JLI subgroup on Religion and Foreign Policy His story- son of refugee parents. Fled from India to Pakistan at Independence, then migrated to UK and now in USA. Strong proponent of interfaith working. Islamic relief works with many faith partners from other traditions. 2 Christians killed who were working for Islamic Relief in Sudan- their loss is our loss.Syrian refugees volunteering to help homeless vets in New Jersey. There is a strong counter narrative to working together. It can be difficult and dangerous. 2 buildings in world where danger too great for IR have a name plate on the building – Syria and Washington DC. The America I love is where I see Jews, Christians and Muslims welcoming refugees together in humanity. We need more courage and more love to counteract the messages of hate.
- Barbara Day- Domestic Resettlement Chief at State Dept Bureau of Population, refugees and Migration. Many resettlement agencies since WW2. 1975 FBOs were active in the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees. US governments has operational agreements with many organisations to provide the basics for refugees. Of the top 6 resettlement agencies 5 are FBOs. Faith communities can provide extras like friendship (the most wanted in a survey of refugees – someone to have coffee with), English language education, driving, filling in tax forms, skills learning and assistance with job seeking. Often faith communities already thinking of holistic well-being. They are boots on the ground. They can be effective in resettlement because leaders have a clear vision with motivated staff.
- Mark Stevenson – Episcopalian Migration Ministries. 85,000 refugees resettled in USA last year. 5,000 of them by the Episcopalians. When Jesus preached on the separation of the sheep and the goats the separation was not based on race, creed or origins but whether you welcomed me when I was a stranger.(Mt:2)
- Abdul Saboor- A resettled refugee. His journey started when his community was set on fire and killed for believing in democracy. Decisions made by others meant it was not possible to resettle elsewhere in his country. It took 5 years from application for asylum to arrival. Ahigh price was paid as he had to restart from nothing and felt his identity changing with separation from home and culture. Felt marginalized and lonely. Resettlement help- did not know which faith they represented, now call them friends. Interfaith works. Cohesion makes Syracuse (his home) a welcoming place. Hope is stronger than fear. Quoted Mother Teresa “the reason we have so much difficulty in our lives is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”
- Maria Fare- Advocate for the Sustainable Goals in Latin America. At age 13/14 years went with her church repeatedly to a poor indigenous community in the south. Learned it was not about bringing them things but being with them. One day she said to an old lady in the community “you are so lucky to live here, it is such a beautiful place” The old woman replied “ I think the same about you every time you come, that you are so lucky to visit”. Its not just about alleviating problems but helping to overcome them. We need empathy to advocate for the world we want, not statistics
Discussion Questions put to Panel
How do you respond internally and externally to those who disagree with you on refugees?
Khan – Engage with their faith ‘WWJD’ Ask what their faith teaching says. There are haters on all sides.
Bingham – What if their story was my story – evokes empathy
Stevenson- invite into arelationship, come and see what we are doing. The public narrative fades away in face of reality.
Sahoor – information is key, rectify misconceptions.
How do we make it a moral imperative for the church to get involved with the refugees?
Help them to see that the refugees are the strangers Jesus taught, that we are required to help.
Close of Meeting by Jeff Brez – DPI Relations, Advocacy and Special Events Officer.
It is our duty to ensure refugees find security and dignity. There is always something we can do, however small in our daily lives. We must have personal compassion but when we serve together we can definitely make a difference.
What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?
- When Jesus preached on the separation of the sheep and the goats the separation was not based on race, creed or origins but whether you welcomed me when I was a stranger.
- We need more courage and more love to counteract the messages of hate.
- “the reason we have so much difficulty in our lives is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other” – Mother Teresa