Friday, May 8, 2009

Journey to Freedom Through World Relief

World Relief is an organization that performs a multitude of services internationally. Through their sixty years of disaster response, they have learned how to effectively mobilize human and material services to help disaster victims. Maternal and child care in foreign lands can include everything from teaching women to breastfeed to providing mosquito bed netting to prevent malaria. Their battle against AIDS works at a grassroots level through churches in countries like Africa where they teach citizens about the epidemic, teach abstinence and fidelity, and support the victims of the disease.

But here in Nashville, you will see World Relief working with church-based volunteers to help refugees whom are fleeing war or persecution in their homelands. Nationwide, the organization assists over 10,000 refugees each year in adjusting to their new home in America. Volunteers meet the families as they arrive in our city and walk them through the process of setting up a home including setting up a home. But reaching out to the family and being their friend is the most important job of the volunteer. Some refugees will be bewildered by common American items such as child seats and gas stoves.

From the World Relief website: Mary, a Sudanese refugee, says, “When I got off the plane, I was afraid. I did not know anyone. But then I saw many people holding balloons and banners. World Relief workers introduced themselves to me. I was startled by the kind people who greeted me. I knew at that moment that my Christian brothers and sisters would help me start again.”

Volunteers stand at the end of a long journey to America but they are also there for their first steps of freedom in America. Each family must rebuild the most basic parts of their lives. Volunteers can help them find an apartment, find furniture, and even find a job. Language barriers can be terrifying for these families, leaving them feeling helpless in their new home. The open arms of the volunteers provide a much needed friendship from the moment they step off the plane.

One way you, your kids, and your neighbors can help is by making "Welcome Kits" for newly arrived refugee families. There are eight different types of kits: Cleaning, Writing, First Aid, Kitchen, Cooking, Starter Kitchen, Family Hygiene, and Housing. If you would like to help in this area, call 615-833-7735 x222. You can also arrange to drop off the kits at that same number.

World Relief also accepts donations of furniture including couches, loveseats, chairs, tables, beds, cribs and dressers. For housing setup, they need sheets, blankets, towels, lamps, cleaning supplies, alarm clocks, showercurtains, and rugs. Kitchen needs include all dishes, glasses, pots, pans, silverware, knives and trash cans. Miscellaneous donation ideas include Kroger gift cards, Sam's gift cards, phone cards, baby items, first aid kits, and even automobiles.

Right now the Nashville office of World Relief is looking for a Refugee Resettlement Intern.
To obtain a description of or apply for any of the Nashville opportunities, please contact Deanna Dolan for more information at

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