Des Moines, Iowa—LSI will hold a celebration for World Refugee Day on Wednesday, June 20 at 10:15 a.m. at LSI’s Refugee Connection Center at 3116 University Avenue in Des Moines.
First celebrated in 2001, World Refugee Day is held annually on June 20 to raise awareness about the plight of 43 million displaced people around the world,including 15 million who are refugees, and to celebrate their courage and strength.
“Des Moines has a vibrant refugee community,” said Jill Stuecker, LSI director of refugee services. “World Refugee Day is a time to recognize the unimaginable struggles they’ve endured and to also celebrate the hopeful and diverse ways in which these families enrich our Des Moines community through the arts, entrepreneurship, culture and more.”
LSI’s extended support services help individuals and families from Bhutan, communities of Burma, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea, Liberia and other countries through English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, elder programs, community gardening, intensive work readiness classes and capacity building with refugee leaders and local service providers.
“Extended support isn’t a mandated part of the resettlement process for refugees, but it’s critically needed,” said Stuecker. “We’re lucky to offer this in Des Moines. Transitioning from life in a refugee camp to everyday life in Iowa is a challenge, especially for elder individuals, and it’s a long-term process. Our center gives refugee community members and leaders a place to gather, learn and continually access support, resources and tools.”
LSI’s Refugee Community Services’ latest outcomes include:
- Connecting 360 refugee individuals, with the help of their own ethnic community leaders, to services such as Head Start, Legal Aid and the Des Moines Police Department
- Connecting 104 people to community gardening, including market farming
- Graduating over 50 people from intensive employment readiness courses, 95% of them improving their understanding of what it takes to succeed in the American workplace
- Connecting 68 elder individuals to programs that educate, reduce isolation and build meaningful relationships, 100% of them reporting that attendance at LSI’s English classes gives them confidence going to the grocery store or doctor’s office
- Educating 45 elder individuals at English classes twice per week
- Training 40 people through “Growing Food in Iowa” gardening classes, an eight-week training held in native languages
LSI has a need for experienced volunteer ESL teachers. Bus token donations are also needed.
For more information, visit www.LSIowa.org/refugee.