ICNA Relief USA - Refugee Services

We Have Their Back

"It's no surprise: migrant and refugee children face higher rates of bullying. The social costs of bullying are also high: bullied children face a greater risk of poor health, internalized stress, and suicidal thoughts."   -- Unicef.org



ICNA Relief's Refugee Outreach Coordinator Sr. Leila Elfane in New Jersey is doing her best to help both families and schools resolve prejudice-based bullying in her state.

Sr. Leila had an appointment this past December with a school In Elizabeth, NJ. The school staff greeted her with relief, "Are you the Leila that is helping the refugee families?" she recalled them asking her. "Oh my God, we were looking for you!" The staff member called all the teachers and even the nurse to talk to Sr. Leila.

"Alhamdulilah in one visit, I was able to help so many teachers get information and express their concerns about certain things that happened in school," she said.

For example, there was a Syrian child that was constantly fighting with others in school. "No one knew that something was bothering him," Sr. Leila said. "Unfortunately, he does not speak English so he doesn't understand the consequences of his behavior. I called the family and sat with them to explain."

The child started crying and told Sr. Leila that two kids in his class were bullying him saying "Go back to Syria" and "Syria is garbage." That is what triggered his aggressive behavior. He tried to explain this to his teacher but she didn't understand him. So he was always blamed as the one "looking for trouble."  

"After ICNA Relief visited the school, the school wrote a report against the two boys and they eventually came to apologize to him," Sr. Leila said. "When the teachers see there is someone behind the kids, they make more effort to help Syrian refugees. Now they see these kids as a priority. ICNA Relief is here so they know there is someone looking out for the kids."

 Learn more about our Refugee Services: http://bit.ly/1Y8YSql 

Massachusetts Director Speaks About Helping Syrian Refugees at Local Council Meeting

ICNA Relief's Massachusetts Director Sr. Malika MacDonald spoke at a Cambridge City Council meeting to discuss the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the role of ICNA Relief USA both nationally and locally.

She talked about the various problems incoming refugees would face and their potential solutions.

"A major role the City of Cambridge can advocate is scholarships for tuition so that foreign born professionals can become accredited within the United States," she told the Council. "Professional employment opportunities would alleviate some of the financial concerns refugees face upon arriving in US. Let's help them become productive citizens."

Sr. Malika is also the National Director of ICNA Relief's Network of Women's Shelters.


How Well is the U.S. Prepared to Welcome and Support Refugees?

By Malika MacDonald

Given the refugee crisis that is gripping Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Turkey and spilling into Europe after years of bloodshed in Syria, the pressure is on the Obama Administration to accept more refugees into the United States.

But aside from the debates and questions about how best to help refugees and how many to accept, what does it mean to be a refugee in America? This is a question that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Besides the obvious culture shock and differences in language, the Refugee Resettlement Process itself is cloaked in misconceptions — both on the part of refugees themselves as well as the general public.

Read more: How Well is the U.S. Prepared to Welcome and Support Refugees?

ICNA Relief Georgia Holds Eid Gifts Party for Refugee Children from Burma and Somalia

With Eid-ul-Fitr only a few days away, ICNA Relief Georgia held an Eid Gifts Party for the children of refugees from Burma​ and Somalia this past Saturday. We had over 500 gifts collected and distributed among kids and families. The highlight of the event were the kids who volunteered and shared Eid gifts with their new friends from Clarkston. There were gifts for the adults, too. The City of Atlanta has a large population of refugees from all over the world. ICNA Relief Georgia works very closely with the refugee community by assisting them through various programs, including Project RACE


Refugees Come Together Through ICNA Relief to Help A 70-Year-Old Sister with No Food for Suhoor or Iftar

This is the sweetest Ramadan story we have come across. Please take the time to read it to the end. Before the start of Ramadan, ICNA Relief received a request for suhoor and iftaar on behalf of Sr. Halima (on left), who is over 70. She lives in a nursing home, speaks no English and had no access to halal meat or suhoor or iftaar. Hearing our request, families volunteered to bring her suhoor and iftaar each and every day for Ramadan. And since she doesn't have access to halal meat through the year, these volunteers make it a point to include it in each meal! 

The day one lady cooks for Sr. Halima, she is provided groceries for it by another sister in the group. They take turns cooking and shopping for each other, so no one family does it all. But do you know what the most touching thing is?

Read more: Refugees Come Together Through ICNA Relief to Help A 70-Year-Old Sister with No Food for Suhoor or...
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