Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally

by International Rescue Committee
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Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Help Refugees at Risk in the U.S. and Globally
Zahra in the ASU library.
Zahra in the ASU library.

The IRC is supporting displaced families from around the world acclimate to their new lives, including Afghans in the United States. Here’s a glimpse into three Afghan friends’ stories and how the IRC is helping these newcomers settle into a new way of life. 

Three Afghan Women Forge a New Start in Arizona 

In August of 2021, ArifaSanjar, 18, Zahra Mosavi, 19, and HadisaRezayee, 18, found themselves stranded outside Kabul airport with a group of 170 students. The Taliban had just taken control of the country and they were among the thousands hoping to evacuate—even if it meant leaving their families behind. The situation was tense and dangerous.  

“We saw gunfire,” Zahra says. “On the second day, a bomb exploded right near us, in an area we’d left just five minutes before. It was really close.”The friends had to wait three days before they could get inside the airport, let alone board a plane for their ultimate destination: the United States.  

A little over a year later, Zahra, Arifa and Hadisa are now full-time students at Arizona State University (ASU), their days packed with activities and studying. While most refugees resettle in homes and residential communities, these women are rebuilding their lives on campus, as part of a co-sponsorship program between the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Arizona and ASU.Here, Arifa, Zahra, and Hadisa share their experiences fleeing Afghanistan, starting over in the U.S., and planning for their futures. 

Leaving Afghanistan 

Arifa, Zahra, and Hadisa met when all three attended the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Bangladesh, which provides scholarships for Afghan students. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the girls returned home to Kabul to attend school remotely. They feared for their futures when the government changed hands. It was AUW that eventually helped the girls to leave the country, assisting 170 Afghan students seeking safety in the U.S. The three friends were among 67 who came to Arizona. 

Arriving in the U.S. 

Upon arrival, the IRC helped Arifa, Zahra, and Hadisa acclimate to their new surroundings and access basic necessities. 

“It was very difficult,” Zahra says. “We left our homeland and our families.” 

“We weren’t allowed to bring anything,” recalls Arifa. “We didn’t even have clothes to wear. So they brought in clothes for us, food, everything. It meant a lot to us.” 

The IRC also connected the women with an Afghan case worker who spoke their language.Through the co-sponsorship program with the IRC, ASU provided housing, meals, scholarships, and additional support, enabling the women to continue their education.Once the women settled in Arizona, they began to get used to their new home.Despite such readjustments, all three young women are optimistic about their futures in the U.S.  

“Here, there's lots of opportunity for women,” Zahra says. “As a woman, you can achieve all your dreams here.” 

Goals for the Future 

Arifa, Hadisa and Zahra are currently taking English classes as part of ASU’s Global Launch program. They will join regular ASU classes in the spring of 2023. Zahra plans to study law to support her family and to help women and girls in Afghanistan.Arifa looks forward to studying cybersecurity, also with the goal of supporting her family, and helping her country. She hopes to continue practicing martial arts, which she has been studying for six years. She has earned her black belt in taekwondo and has competed in several competitions, including the Asian Olympic Games in Turkmenistan.Hadisa plans to study software engineering and find ways to help those still struggling in Afghanistan.Hadisa, too, wants to help her family back in Afghanistan, especially as they supported her journey to the U.S. 

How else does the IRC help refugees in the US?  

Thanks to your generous support, we provide essential services including housing, health care, education, employment, and legal assistance to provide a solid foundation, helping newcomers integrate and thrive in their new communities.   

You can continue your support by encouraging your peers to accept refugees as new and valuable members of American society. You can also help refugees by volunteering at a local resettlement agency, becoming an English tutor, a tour guide, a mentor to a family, donating furniture and household items, teaching other people about the valuable contributions of refugees, urging your elected officials to support refugee resettlement, and employing or encouraging local businesses to employ refugees. 

 

 

Arifa & Hadisa with their skateboards in Arizona.
Arifa & Hadisa with their skateboards in Arizona.
Arifa, Zahra & Hadisa studying in the ASU library.
Arifa, Zahra & Hadisa studying in the ASU library.
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IRC clients plant seedlings at a New Roots garden
IRC clients plant seedlings at a New Roots garden

With your help, the IRC supports resettled refugees through the ‘New Roots’ program

The IRC has 25 offices across the United States that support newly arrived refugees by providing immediate aid, including food, housing and medical attention. Each resettlement office serves as a free, one-stop center for refugees’ needs during their pivotal first months in the U.S. Through a network of staff members and volunteers, the IRC helps refugees learn about life and customs in America, secure jobs, learn English, and become citizens. We provide most of the basic things they need to restart their lives here and we help them overcome cultural barriers so that their adjustment is as easy as possible. Through community gardening, nutrition education and small-business farming, the IRC's New Roots program gives hundreds of refugee farmers the tools and training they need to grow healthy and affordable food and become self-sufficient.

New Roots focuses on food security, food access and agriculture in the refugee community. New Roots is a national program and is located in 12 different cities. Through nutrition education and urban scale farming and market programs, the IRC's New Roots program is giving hundreds of resettled refugees the tools and training to grow healthy produce, provide affordable food to their neighbors, build their business skills, and support community wellness.

Because of your donation to support the IRC’s refugee clients in the U.S., New Roots enables refugees to reconnect with agrarian backgrounds and facilitate the application of their unique skills to improving their lives and livelihoods in their new home. The program has grown from just a few offices to many of the Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration network, spurred primarily by strong interest and support from refugees and other local community members. This programming creates safe and welcoming opportunities for new immigrant populations to meet and work with their new neighbors, creating tighter-knit, safer and more economically and culturally vibrant communities.

How else does the IRC help refugees in the US?

Thanks to your generous support, we provide essential services including housing, health care, education, employment, and legal assistance to provide a solid foundation, helping newcomers integrate and thrive in their new communities. 

You can continue your support by encouraging your peers to accept refugees as new and valuable members of American society. You can also help refugees by volunteering at a local resettlement agency; becoming an English tutor; a tour guide; a mentor to a family; donating furniture and household items; teaching other people about the valuable contributions of refugees; urging your elected officials to support refugee resettlement; and employing or encouraging local businesses to employ refugees.

IRC client shows the tomato seedlings he planted
IRC client shows the tomato seedlings he planted
Seedlings grown by farmers ready to be planted
Seedlings grown by farmers ready to be planted
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IRC staff welcomes Afghan newcomers in the U.S.
IRC staff welcomes Afghan newcomers in the U.S.

In 25 cities across the United States the IRC provides an array of support to thousands of refugees each year during their crucial first 90 days. This includes placement in affordable housing, English classes and cultural orientation, temporary cash assistance and help finding their first job. We also provide critical services to individuals and families entering the U.S. as asylum seekers.

Our first priority is to protect people who have endured violence or persecution in their home countries from further harm and to help them successfully adjust to their new communities.

Clients who arrive to the U.S. as refugees are greeted at the airport and accompanied to a furnished apartment that has been stocked with an initial supply of food and other basic necessities. An IRC case worker orients them to their new community and provides a range of individualized support during their first three months such as temporary financial assistance, help enrolling children in school and assistance finding employment.

The IRC provides critical emergency services to asylum seekers including temporary accommodations, food, transportation and orientation services, health/mental health evaluations, legal information and referrals.

The IRC helps unaccompanied children seeking protection to reunite safely with family members or other sponsors and pursue their legal case in immigration court. We provide home study and post-release/follow-up servicesto children after being placed in safe homes to facilitate enrollment in school, connection to medical and mental health care, as well as legal representation in their claims for asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief, such as special immigrant juvenile visas or visas for victims of crime or trafficking.

We provide comprehensive, trauma-informed case management to victims of human trafficking in 10 U.S. states and provide technical assistance to other emerging anti-trafficking programs.

Following what are often arduous and traumatic experiences of migration, as well as challenging circumstances upon reaching their destination, the IRC works diligently to restore the physical and mental health of our clients. 

The IRC offers a comprehensive package of employment programs in all of our U.S. offices, so that refugees and other at-risk community members can achieve self-sufficiency, build a fulfilling career path, and contribute to the economic vitality of their communities.

The IRC understands that education is the key, not only to achieving self-sufficiency and economic wellbeing, but also to living a meaningful life and unlocking one’s full potential. We offer our clients of all ages throughout the U.S. opportunities to continue learning and building academic, technical, social-emotional and life skills.

In times of crisis, people often lack access to the necessary information, knowledge and opportunity to understand and secure their rights. The IRC works to empower people to reclaim their rights and regain control over decisions that affect their lives and futures.

On behalf of all of us at the IRC and our newcomer client communities in the U.S., thank you.

A family reunites after 5 long years of separation
A family reunites after 5 long years of separation

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Fresh produce grown by refugee farmers in Phoenix
Fresh produce grown by refugee farmers in Phoenix

In the United States, the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a food crisis. According to Feeding America, although the situation has improved somewhat, food banks have seen a 55 percent increase in the number of people seeking help.

Refugees and other new Americans are disproportionately impacted as many are employed in sectors that were hit hard by COVID-19. However, through the IRC’s New Roots program, newcomers to the U.S. are playing a significant role in helping their communities to find healthy, affordable food to feed their families.

What does it mean to be food insecure?

As defined by the United Nations, being food secure is when people have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, that is culturally appropriate, always. Food insecurity is the lack of those necessities and can have a dramatic impact on someone’s life.

The IRC’s New Roots Program

The IRC’s New Roots program was founded to help refugees access land and make a living from agriculture. New Roots is made up of thriving community gardens and programs supporting food access, nutrition, and agriculture in twelve cities across the country from New York to California.

Through community gardens and farms, the program allows resettled refugees, new Americans, and their neighbors to grow food either to feed their families and/or to supplement their income. New Roots supports food access and nutrition in a way that is adapted to the person’s needs and experience, as well as local opportunities. For example, many refugees arrive in the U.S. with extensive experience in agriculture while others do not, and the programs vary accordingly. As of 2021, the IRC has a network of more than 62 New Roots gardens, farms, and markets, where more than 5,000 people a year grow, prepare, share, buy, and sell local, healthy foods in their communities.

The gardens allow refugees to grow produce they ate back home that might not be available or affordable in American grocery stores. Many of the gardens are also located in areas classified as "food deserts" because of the inaccessibility of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.

Menuka* arrived in Salt Lake City as a refugee from Nepal. A relative who lived nearby took her to visit the local New Roots garden. She was surprised and delighted by what she found. "We saw that everything we used to grow in Nepal, they’re growing here,” she said. Today, she grows Nepalese cucumbers and spicy Thai chilies in a plot she tends right next to her mother-in-law’s own garden bed.

Feeding the Community

New Roots is as focused on community as it is on farming. This emphasis became even more critical as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since April 2020, the IRC offices, New Roots, and resettlement teams have reached over 6,000 families with groceries and locally grown food. 10% of that food came from New Roots refugee farmers. One of those farmers was Tareke*, a refugee from Eritrea, working in Phoenix, Arizona. Tareke donated hundreds of bushels of swiss chard, fennel, garlic, green onions, and cilantro to be used in care packages delivered by IRC staff.

How else does the IRC help refugees in the US?

Thanks to your generous support, the IRC continues to help protect and rebuild the lives of resettled refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable populations in more than 20 cities across the United States. We provide essential services including housing, health care, education, employment, and legal assistance to provide a solid foundation, helping newcomers integrate and thrive in their new communities.

* Last names omitted to protect privacy

Menuka grows traditional Nepalese vegetables
Menuka grows traditional Nepalese vegetables
Tareke grows food for other families in need
Tareke grows food for other families in need
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A DRC family builds a new life in Phoenix.
A DRC family builds a new life in Phoenix.

The Impact of Your Support: welcoming refugees in the U.S.

After four years of Trump Administration policies that harmed people seeking safety, President Joe Biden pledged to restore America’s long tradition of welcome. Following some critical first steps during his first 100 days in office, he increased his predecessor’s record-low cap on refugee admissions.

From harm to a new home

As a leading resettlement partner, with more than 20 offices across the United States, the IRC is scaling our support to provide newly arrived refugees with immediate aid, including food, housing and medical attention. 

With your support, each resettlement office can serve as a free, one-stop center for refugees’ needs during their pivotal first months in the country. Through a network of staff members and volunteers, the IRC is helping refugees learn about life and customs in America, secure jobs, learn English, and become citizens. We are providing most of the essential items they need to restart their lives here and help them overcome cultural barriers so that their adjustment is as easy as possible.

Through community gardening, nutrition education and small-business farming, the IRC's New Roots program is giving hundreds of refugee farmers the tools and training they need to grow healthy and affordable food and become self-sufficient.

This month we also began working again with partner agencies to relocate a select group of Afghan citizens granted special immigrant visas for their exceptional service to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Together, we are providing services for these individuals, including medical care and safe resettlement by a sponsoring resettlement agency. 

The IRC has resettled more than 16,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients since Congress established the program in 2006, and is committed to ensuring that these families are given a chance to seek safety. 

Thank you for supporting refugees as they rebuild their lives in the United States.

Valentina was threatened by gangs in El Salvador.
Valentina was threatened by gangs in El Salvador.
Junaid is part of IRC's Hospitality Link program.
Junaid is part of IRC's Hospitality Link program.
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International Rescue Committee

Location: New York, NY - USA
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Savannah Paolillo
New York, NY United States
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