Refugees are arriving in our communities in ever increasing numbers. They are here legally and by invitation of the U. S. State Department. Many have lived their entire adult lives in a refugee camp. They have been forced to leave their homes and often have witnessed or experienced torture and murder. They are the “cream of the crop” — only 1% of all the world’s refugees are ever resettled.
They are also experienced, resilient, and often knowledgeable in several languages and cultures. But the fast-paced, technological, independent, American way of life is completely foreign to them.
Sometimes all it takes is a little extra patience and help from caring friends and neighbors to help a refugee family blossom into full-fledged members of our community. Are you willing to be a friendly face? Stop to greet someone who doesn’t look just like you? Help someone struggling in the checkout line? (After all, they may think that the cashier is asking for their immigration papers when all that was requested was a frequent shopper card!)
The Voices Worth Hearing, Art Worth Sharing exhibit was created to introduce you to real people with real stories that we hope will strike a chord in you. Sometimes that chord may be one of shock or outrage. More often it may be one of empathy, amazement and appreciation.
The exhibit premiered in June 2010 in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts District and will travel for the next year across Northeast Ohio to community centers, churches, libraries and other locations. Visit BHITC online again to check on upcoming showings of the exhibit, as well as related programming that BHITC and its partnering agencies will be providing. If you’re interested in having the exhibit visit your church or organization, please let me know!
Refugees strive to live their lives like their American neighbors, in step and alongside us. They want to succeed and contribute to our communities. They bring unique strengths and perspectives that can transform us and our communities.
I encourage you to take that first step, discover your new neighbors, and reach out a hand of friendship. You will never be the same.
Manager, Refugee Resettlement Ministries
Buy a catalog, order a print, or learn more about having the exhibit visit your congregation or organization by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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