The situation of refugees remains a pressing issue in the world and our Northern Virginia communities. NVFS recognizes the challenges faced by refugees and promotes efforts toward solutions that respect their human rights and dignity.
“For the first time on record, the global number of people forced to flee their homes has crossed the staggering milestone of 100 million, according to recent data from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.”—Vox Refugee Report 2022
How can you help refugees in our community? In this blog, we will provide answers to this often-asked question. But first, we have a story to tell.
The Story of March 2023
In March 2023, 200 Nicaraguan political prisoners were released to the United States.
NVFS’ Survivors of Severe Torture and Trauma, a program with a 20-year history, quickly mobilized to help the survivors process and prepare for life beyond their horrific experience.
“Research has shown that first response [after this kind of trauma] affects long-term recovery,” explained Meredith McKeen, Vice President of Programs.
NVFS knew that they must act quickly. Bilingual clinicians, who understand the language and the culture, were deployed to assist with the survivors’ “giant transition.” Support was provided to the refugees, including case management, advocacy, and mental health support specific to immigrants and torture and trauma survivors.
“We provided skills for managing their stress and relieving their symptoms. We validated their feelings, their humanity… and were able to provide some hope,” Paola Sandoval-Moshenberg, Director of the NVFS Multicultural Center, explained.
Most of the survivors joined families throughout the United States. Twenty stayed in the Northern Virginia area, where NVFS continues to assist them in making a successful transition. NVFS is helping with their journey to long-term well-being. But that brings the question, “How can you help the refugees in our community?”
Five Ways You Can Help Today
While the Nicaraguan refugees that arrived in Northern Virginia in March 2023 are on their way to a successful transition, refugees are arriving daily in Northern Virginia communities. Here are just a few ways that you can help NVFS support the refugee community:
- Donate: Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities work directly with refugees, providing them with essential supplies, medical care, and education. Monetary donations to these organizations can help them sustain their efforts. Donate to Northern Virginia Family Service.
- Volunteer: NVFS relies on volunteers for various tasks, including tutoring, translations, legal aid, and assistance with resettlement. Time donated to these causes can be invaluable. Please read our blog about The Benefits of Volunteering.
- Educate Yourself and Others: Understanding the refugee crisis is vital to creating empathetic societies. Read and share stories about refugees (including this blog), attend lectures or seminars, and spread awareness about the challenges refugees face in Northern Virginia.
- Advocate: Raise your voice in support of refugees. Advocacy includes sharing posts on social media and contacting your government representatives. We invite you to share NVFS’s social media posts with friends, family, and business contacts.
- Support Education: Education for refugee children and adults is critical. You can support programs and initiatives that give educational opportunities to refugees. Tutoring and volunteerism go hand-in-hand.
You can also help the refugees in our community by celebrating their resilience with solidarity.
Celebrate Resilience in Our Community
Honor the strength and resilience of refugees by acknowledging their journey. Note their capacity to rebuild their lives in foreign lands and under challenging circumstances. Please take the opportunity to listen to their stories. Celebrate courage.
As we show compassion for people displaced by conflict or persecution, it encourages others to understand the humanitarian needs of refugees.
If you would like additional information about Northern Virginia Family Service and our commitment to the refugee community, visit our website, NVFS.org. Our team would be happy to welcome you as a volunteer. Join us by sending an email: email@example.com