World Refugee Day – Week of Welcome

By Morgan Mattson

Nobody chooses to be a refugee, but rather is forced into a life of escaping war and danger so they can survive. A refugee is someone who is “owning to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable to or unwilling to avail himself to the protection of that country.” Refugees relocate to a neighboring country where they can apply for refugee status through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and are then set up in a camp. Of the millions of people forced to live in refugee camps, less than 1% get a chance to resettle into a third, welcoming, country. The unfortunate truth is that people have been fleeing persecution from terrorist groups, wars, or their governments for centuries and it is still happening around the world today.

The United States of America has a history of being a welcoming country for those seeking safety and hope. We are one of many countries offering resettling services for refugees. In 2016, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc resettled the most refugees per capita in the United States, but this number has dropped significantly over the past four years. Resettlement agencies around the country have been dismantled and diminished throughout the last four years, and we are building ourselves back up so we can continue to help the millions of displaced men, women, and children around the world. We need your help to continue being a welcoming state and country for those facing persecution for their race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group, or political opinion.

In honor of World Refugee Day, we will be celebrating the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. Throughout the week, we will be sharing interesting facts, resources, restaurants, businesses, movies, books, documentaries, and opportunities for you to be involved and support refugee families in our communities. We kick off this week by asking you to Welcome Refugees into your community! Please create a sign that reads simply, “Welcome Refugees” and post to your Facebook page, LFSneb’s Facebook page, or Thrivent’s Facebook page and tag it with #welcomerefugeesNE, #Thrivent, and #lfsneb. The signs can be written in any language, and we encourage you to try to write in a language other than English! But all languages are welcome. If you are not able to post to Facebook, you can post a photo here: “Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.” – Thrivent Action Teams (cotribute.co). Let us work together to be the most welcoming communities in Nebraska!

Tune in each day to learn more about those who have been forced to flee their homes and how resilient human beings are! We are providing a Week of Welcome for all refugees around the world, but we hope this week will be everlasting as people around the world seek refuge in our communities.

DON’T FORGET!

Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska has partnered with Thrivent to run a “welcome sign campaign” throughout the entire week! Simply write “welcome refugees” on a piece of paper, poster, etc. and take a picture of the sign showing your support for the Nebraska refugee community. The picture can be a selfie holding the sign, the sign in your window, next to your pet… anywhere! Post your picture to Facebook with the hashtag #welcomerefugeesNE or to THIS page and Thrivent will donate $5 back to LFS for refugee resettlement! You can take up to 5 pictures with your sign and Thrivent will donate $5 back for every picture. That’s $25 per person!! Let us work together to show our support and welcome for the refugee community of Nebraska!

Tune in every day for new stories, information, and resources as we celebrate World Refugee Day – Week of Welcome!

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