A Local perspective
Much of the work is local once the refugees arrive.
St. George’s in Fredericksburg established a group Afghan Allies to minister to the Afghans, overrun by the Taliban by Aug. 2021. Afghan refugees were processed in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and New Jersey. Article written by Cathy Barron a member of that group in April, 2022 –
“Thank you, St. Georgians! You have shown hospitality to some of our community’s newest neighbors, families who were evacuated from Afghanistan. Using your gifts of financial aid, furniture, and household supplies, Afghan Allies of St. George’s has helped settle five families into apartments and townhouses. We worked with Catholic Charities, the U.S. government appointed liaison in this area to supply the basic needs of these families — tables, chairs, lamps, beds, pots, dishes, sheets, towels — and welcoming smiles. That’s where your gifts came in.
“However, often we had requests for additional items that would meet individuals’ needs. One woman requested a sewing machine and fabric because she and her family had fled with only the clothes they were wearing (as was often the case.) Another woman wanted fabric for curtains to soften the stark interior of her new home. One man needed a computer so that he could study English and look for a job. Children wanted toys (which St. George’s youth are helping to supply.) Occasionally our new neighbors talked about themselves and what they had left behind. More than one person was worried about relatives and friends left in Afghanistan.
“And always they were thankful. We saw people run their hands delightedly over a new-to-them desk or table. In addition, they wanted to show hospitality to us. We were always invited to sit and share tea or juice with the families.
were always invited to sit and share tea or juice with the families.
Role of Episcopal Migration Ministries
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is the refugee resettlement program of the Episcopal Church, and a living example of the Church’s commitment to aid the stranger. Resettlement is the last option for any refugee, when it is not possible for the refugee to return home or to integrate into the country which first offered asylum. In 2020, EMM resettled 1,121 individuals from 29 counties to build new lives . They collaborated with local partner agencies in 10 Episcopal dioceses to welcome those fleeing persecution.
Episcopal Migration Ministries is the church’s foremost response to refugee crises. Working in partnership with offices and groups within the church as well as with governments, non-government organizations (NGOs), and a network of affiliated offices, Episcopal Migration Ministries assures safe passage and provides vital services for thousands of refugee families upon their arrival in America: English language and cultural orientation classes, employment services, school enrollment, and initial assistance with housing and transportation. For each family, the goal is self-reliance and self-determination. After years of living in limbo, thanks to Episcopal Migration Ministries, refugees now have the opportunity to begin again on a strong foundation that honors their stories and dignity.
There are three durable solutions for refugees: repatriation, integration, and resettlement. Thankfully, in many cases, refugees are able to repatriate or return to their home countries once the conflicts there have ceased and civil society has stabilized. Other refugees, who may not be able to return home, are able instead to integrate into the country of first asylum – the country to which they fled for safety. The remaining group of refugees – less than 1 in 100 refugees – is resettled to another nation.