By Morgan Mattson 

Can you imagine being forced to flee your home and leave behind all the possessions that make you feel comfortable in this world? Can you imagine leaving behind your neighborhood, friends, family, schools, job, favorite businesses, to survive? Only being able to bring with you what you can pack in a bag or not having time to pack anything at all. And then cautiously traveling to a refugee camp to seek help. From there, you are offered a fraction of hope that you may be amongst the less than 1% of all refugees worldwide to get a chance to resettle in another country one day if, and only if, all your background, security, and medical checks are completed, and the expiration dates align perfectly for you and possibly your family to travel together to a new, safe country. If everything checks out, then you are admitted for travel to a new country where you may not know the language or much about the culture? You may have little to no education or may not know how to read or write in your own language, let alone be expected to do so in a new language.  

After all of this, you are expected to learn the new culture in which you have been resettled, learn the language, and become employed within 90 days, just 3 months. How do you think you would cope with all these changes and experiences? Would you need extra help and guidance to learn the ways of not only the new city you live in, but also the country? I know I would.  

If you would like to help a person who has experienced something similar as written above, the help is needed. We have many opportunities for involvement and volunteering within our refugee services department at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.  

As a resettlement agency, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska is required to supply newly arriving families with their basic core needs to give them a fresh start. We must supply all furniture and household items for each family that arrives and is placed in our care. We can only accomplish this for each family through the help of our communities! We rely on volunteers or co-sponsors to furnish apartments and to collect other household items for a refugee family’s home. We also rely on volunteers to help refugee clients learn how to navigate through their new communities as well as work on their English language skills. Volunteers are also utilized to help with job readiness training and skills. If any of the stories you have heard this week have touched your heart or made you want to learn more, please consider getting involved to help today! We are looking for groups and individuals to help support refugee families and individuals in our communities.  

If you would prefer working outside or have gardening or farming skills, then we have the perfect opportunity for you to get involved in our Global Roots Program. Global Roots is a program through Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc. that offers access to land and resources for New American and Immigrant farmers to grow their native crops and/or sell them on market. We rely on volunteers to help maintain the farms and with harvesting.  

If you would like to get involved in any capacity, please contact [email protected] for more information. We would love to have you get involved as a volunteer or advocate for refugee services in Nebraska and across the U.S. 

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!

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