Recently-arrived Somali children dashed around the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota with excitement, finding new and imaginative exhibits to explore while their mothers found a much needed space to connect and build community in a new home.
MCC Refugee Services’ newest employee, Ahmed “Jaffer,” joined the Mankato team just two months ago. He brings a wealth of experience and a great sense of humor as he works to help those who came to our community as refugees find employment in Minnesota. I interviewed him to learn about what brought Jaffer to MCC Refugee Services and share the work he is doing in the Mankato area.
Do you remember when news of the Syrian refugee crisis dominated the news a few years ago? Refugee Services volunteer Aleisha does. She had recently left her work with victims of domestic violence to stay home with her son and was looking for a way to make a difference in her corner of the world. The news about refugee families fleeing resonated deeply with her and she was determined to do something. Traveling overseas to help wasn’t a possibility for her, so Aleisha found a way to be involved locally through MCC Refugee Services.
Imagine, if you can, what it was like for a mother separated from her children to hear the news of 3 refugee travel bans and the suspension of the family reunification process she was depending on. If you add to that scenario a case of terminal cancer, unbelievably complex paperwork complications, and multiple travel cancellations, you might begin to understand a bit of Zaraha’s life experience.
When you move to a new country, there are so many things to learn and you find that there are things that you didn’t even know that you needed to know! MCC’s Tapestry Project aims to help new refugee and immigrant arrivals navigate some of this crucial learning process. This six-session series brings together recently-arrived refugees, immigrants, community resource providers, and welcoming volunteers to strengthen the community. You can read more about Tapestry here .
We often share the stories of refugee families who we’ve welcomed, but we wanted to take an opportunity to share about a couple of the people who make our work possible—individual donors!
Meet Mindy and Steve. Steve has worked in the financial services industry for 32 years and Mindy works at Lifetime Fitness. They have three young adult children and are longtime members of University Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
We recently welcomed Tesfa, a single Ethiopian man who came without any family ties in Minnesota. Rather than securing long-term housing for him right away, we wanted to make sure he didn’t already have family or friends in the area that he might want to live with. Arrive Ministries, another local resettlement agency, knew of a host family that was happy to host Tesfa for his first weeks in Minnesota, and the arrangement worked out beautifully. On Tesfa’s first weekend here, we gave a volunteer the opportunity to bring Tesfa to church to help him make some community connections.
The Thursday before the Superbowl brought the world to Minnesota, 130 leaders representing many of the world’s faiths met in Bloomington to generate a state-wide multi-faith network as they marked World Interfaith Harmony Week. The event, held at a site of violence against Muslims but also a site of interfaith solidarity, provided instruction, inspiration and initiation for participants in search of hope and connection.
When we went to greet Mariam at the airport, we were told to expect a woman who had lived through severe difficulties and who would come with nothing but the transit center-issued clothes on her back. But we learned that night that Mariam is a woman who refuses to be defined by her circumstances.