Four Ways to Aid Refugees

Imagine you were given three days to produce certain citizenship paperwork. If you resist, you will either lose your life, end up in jail or be forcibly relocated.

This is part of the story of Santa Pradhan, who fled with her family in 1992 from Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas.

“I grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal,” Pradhan recounts. “I have more memories of the refugee camp than I do of my own motherland. Often the rations were not enough; however, scarcity taught me to be stronger.”

Pradhan and her family lived in the refugee camp for 18 years, continually hoping to go back home. In 2008, they applied for resettlement in the United States. It took three years until the family was reunited.

“God sent many angels to help me when I first settled here,” Pradhan remembers.

It's not easy to get started in a new community, and that's where resettlement agencies like World Relief Seattle come in.

A caseworker met Pradhan at the airport, took her to a furnished apartment and showed her how to use the oven, the thermostat, hot and cold water, and even a flushing toilet. Caseworkers, volunteers and instructors helped Pradhan quickly adjust to living, working and being self-sufficient in a new culture.

“My voice was suppressed for 18 years, so it was hard to learn how to speak up,” shares Pradhan, who now serves as an employment manager for World Relief Seattle.

Washington is the fourth most welcoming state for refugees, with most currently arriving from the Ukraine, Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union.

With an anticipated uptick in refugee resettlement expected this fall, Refuge Church in Seattle (a young adult church plant) and Washington Conference outreach ministries hosted a webcast with World Relief Seattle to learn how church families can walk with refugees in their resettlement journey.

In the webcast, Chitra Hanstad, World Relief Seattle executive director, shared four ways for you and your church to be involved:

  1. Advocate: Advocacy starts with listening and learning. World Relief Seattle, for example, offers to interact with virtual house parties where you and your friends can learn more about supporting refugees and calling senators and representatives on behalf of refugee resettlement issues.
  2. Volunteer: Whether virtual or in-person, volunteers are needed for tutoring children and adults, helping with garden work parties, and assisting with family support. This commitment can be one-time or repeated over time.
  3. Donate: Welcome kits are one of the needed items for refugees and a project a church could adopted. A list of items is available.
  4. Pray: God has so many answers to prayer ready to offer because those closest to His heart are the widow, the orphan and the refugee.

“Wherever you live, get involved,” says Hanstad. “These are mutually beneficial relationships. As we are in relationship, misconceptions are torn down. It will transform your heart.”