Memphis organization celebrates World Refugee Day with open arms

Memphis organization celebrates World Refugee Day with open arms

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's World Refugee Day!

Every 60 seconds, eight people are abandoning the life they know to escape war, persecution, or terror. Some face the turmoil of escaping all three.

World Refugee Day started in 2001 to raise awareness about the global refugee crisis. There are 20 million displaced people worldwide. The U.S. will receive 85,000 refugees this year, and Memphis will receive 275.

A refugee is a person that fled their home and country due to an extreme fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, or social or political affiliations.

Though recognized and celebrated all over the world, work is being done right here in Memphis.

"We want to raise awareness about the refugee crisis in Memphis," Thi Mitsamphanh, World Relief Memphis church mobilization, said. "We're the only resettlement agency in Memphis."

World Relief Memphis has been working with refugees since August 2012. They primarily work with people from Nepal, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Bhutan, Burma, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The organization also works with a larger spectrum of immigrants with immigration legal services.

Services such as refugee resettlement, immigrant legal services, English classes, and employment services are provided.

Even without being someone who's trying to start a new life, you can still lend a much needed helping hand.

World Relief Memphis offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. You can be a part of the Good Neighbor Team, Donations Moving Crew, ESL in Home Conversation Partner, General Transportation/Case Work Aid, and Event Planning.

More involvement can be found in making "welcome kits," which are much needed household items needed by newly arriving families, according to Mitsamphanh. Couches and car seats are currently the most needed items.

You can celebrate Monday night by attending a screening of the award-winning film Salaam Neighbor tonight at STREETS Ministries, located at 1304 N. Graham, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

There are also opportunities afforded every month to work with families. The next orientation session will be on July 7, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Relief Office at 3340 Poplar Ave.

"We believe that as more and more people learn the stories of refugees, their hearts will grow in love and grace, motivating them to extend welcome to refugees," World Relief Memphis' CEO Tim Breene said. "And I have faith that God can and will work through the stories of refugees to bring hope and peace into a crisis, which so badly needs both."

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