The Refugee Resettlement program is part of the International Institute of Rhode Island. Our mission is to enable all area residents, especially immigrants and refugees, to become self-reliant, invested participants in our communities, while fostering respect and understanding among all people.
This blog is a means of communication between IIRI and those who are interested in volunteering or helping out with events related to refugee resettlement in Rhode Island. It is also a means of sharing news and stories pertinant to refugees and refugee resettlement.
This is very sad and shows that there is still work to do in Rhode Island to ensure that everyone is treated with respect. To get involved with Welcoming RI contact Michelle DePlante at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Providence Journal / Sandor Bodo
Imam Mufti Ikram ul Haq presides over the prayers at Masjid Al-Islam in North Smithfield during the holy month of Ramadan last year.
NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Muslims at the Masjid Al-Islam on Sayles Hill Road have asked police for extra protection and help from the FBI after their sign was vandalized and half of it stolen early Sunday. Mufti Ikram ul Haq, the masjid’s imam, said that in light of other recent incidents — the shooting deaths at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and the burning of a mosque in Missouri — members are concerned that the vandalim may be part of a larger pattern against Muslims or people perceived as Muslim. He said a surveillance video, which has since been turned over to police, shows a man smashing the sign with a hammer at 3:30 Sunday morning and driving away with a part of it in his car.
What is it like working or volunteering in an office of refugee resettlement?
Well, that answer changes every day. Here is my perspective (an intern, sitting in a cubicle in the center of everything):
To my left, I hear French being spoken. Somewhere in front of me, a southeast Asian language, perhaps Nepali or Burmese. To my right, job counseling meetings in both fluent and broken English. There are children running around, young couples looking for work, and elderly individuals trying to make ends meet while simultaneously trying to adjust to the absolute culture shock of living in America after being in their home countries and refugee camps for many decades.
Life in this office is always changing, but one thing remains the same. Our caseworkers, staff, and volunteers are caring and passionate individuals trying to help people live their lives here in America. Every day there are new people and different tasks to do. As an intern, I help newly arrived refugees find their way around the city (Providence). I teach them how to use ATMs, navigate the public transit system, and get to important medical appointments. I do the little things that are actually incredibly important in the process of adjusting to American life.
Although our caseworkers work so hard at managing different clients’ cases, they simply don’t have the time to tour them around the city and teach them how to use buses and other things like that. This is where interns and volunteers come in. We provide that extra time and effort that really helps refugees resettle. You get to work one on one with people from all over the world, and in turn, you learn so much. It’s a truly enriching experience.
If YOU want to help out in this incredible process, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Mary Ellen Lynch, at email@example.com.
The following email has circulated around the office, and I figured that I would reach out to the Tumblr community. If you or anyone you know is from Rhode Island and is an immigrant or refugee, share your story! Just send us a message :)
I wanted to reach out to all of you because for the Welcoming RI project we are looking for local immigrants and refugees in RI.
The project involves a pair of 2 Providence College Global studies students interviewing each immigrant/refugee and producing a final story that will be displayed at IIRI along with a portrait canvas photo. The interview will most likely occurring at the beginning of October for 1-2 hours and there will be an opening reception to introduce each immigrant/refugee and their story.
We’re hoping to interview a total of 16 individuals for the project from diverse countries of origin, gender, age, geographic location in RI, and sectors (health, education, business, etc).
Both were successful individuals, but thanks to the instability of the Fujimori regime, my parents lost everything. Both of them held university degrees, but as is the case with many professional immigrants, Mom and Dad saw themselves relegated to unfulfilling work once settled in America.
This reminds me of one of the waiters at the Salvadoran restaurant in Berkeley, California; he was a university professor back home but over here he’s a waiter.
Displacement and refugee resettlement affects entire families, from newborn infant to oldest grandparent. The UNHCR and organizations such as IIRI work hard to service all of these people, provide the best care, and reunite families.
This first news article discusses the Early Childhood Development Center that has been started in Nepal for refugee children between the ages of 2 and 5.
“Looking at the desperate situation of many children…both in the camps and in the host community, we felt the need for a special day care facility which provides a safe and nurturing environment for these children,” said Sangita Khatiwada, Senior Protection Assistant at UNHCR’s sub-office in the eastern Nepal town of Damak.
This article tells the story of an incredibly strong 99 year old woman from Bhutan.
Unlike many elderly refugees in eastern Nepal’s camps who pass their time reading scriptures and chatting with each other, 99-year-old Bishnu Maya Bharati grabs her refugee identity card and visits the UN refugee agency’s office every now and then, asking about her resettlement case.