Refugees: “People who are forced to flee their countries of origin because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social or political group.”1
Every year, the United States Federal Government welcomes around 60,000 refugees, over 2,000 of whom make their new home in Colorado. They come from all over the world; Iraq, Nepal, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and more. They come in search of hope, peace, and possibility.
In 2015, Southeast formed its first Refugee Mentor Group through Lutheran Family Services. Our fledgling Group of six has had the thrilling privilege of welcoming an Iraqi refugee family of four to their new lives in the United States.
As Refugee Mentors, we help new refugees acclimate to life in the Denver Metro area through friendship, the sharing of culture and traditions, English language practice, and assistance with other practical skills. Some examples of activities you might share with the refugee family you are matched with include:
- Celebrating birthdays
- Learning how to use the bus system
- Getting a library card
- Watching fireworks on the 4th of July
- Finding a job and preparing for interviews
- Going to a Rockies game or the zoo
- Utilizing charitable resources, like clothing drives
- Drinking tea
- Practicing English
- Texting with the aid of Google Translate
Ultimately, Lutheran Family Service’s stated goal is to help refugees rebuild their lives “by equipping them to achieve self-sufficiency within their first year in the United States and fostering integration into their new communities.”1
It’s a tall order, which is why we need volunteers like you who are eager to see how six months of being a Refugee Mentor can transform lives—both theirs and your own!