Thursday, July 9, 2015

Creating Trust in the Refugee Community - One Meal at a Time

by Julie Leebove
When most people think of American Red Cross, they think of disaster relief, but the Red Cross does so much more than that.  These other services range from supporting military families to providing education on International Humanitarian Law.  One of the lesser-known but still very important Red Cross service is Restoring Family Links (RFL). Restoring Family Links helps reunite loved ones who have been separated by war, conflict, disaster, and other humanitarian crisis.

Attending events such as World Refugee Day is
one way to reach people who may have
a need for RFL services.
Outreach for this service is crucial, so we connect with potential clients through a variety of creative channels – including attending special events.

One such outreach was World Refugee Day in Colorado Springs on June 27.  The event drew more than 90 people from nearly a dozen countries, including Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bhutan, Myanmar, Liberia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Hosted by Lutheran Family Services, this potluck-style event served dishes from around the world to bring together different cultures and people.

The Colorado Springs potluck provided
an opportunity to connect.
After an American Red Cross spoke at the event about RFL Services, a Liberian woman approached the Red Cross table asking if we could help locate her family who she lost contact with in 1990 due to the civil war. Such an immediate connection to a person in need provides gratifying proof of the effectiveness of direct outreach to the community.

RFL outreach goes beyond attending cultural events; it also involves developing sustainable relationships with community organizations. Creating a relationship of trust as well as a reputation of dependability allows RFL to grow and prosper.

As part of the International Services department, RFL deals with very sensitive material. When clients come in asking for our services, we want them to feel comfortable sharing their stories. Gaining trust from their community is one way we create that security.

Outreach is an ongoing process that requires dedication to communities served and people affected. As we advance outreach for RFL services, we continuously seek new opportunities while equally investing in our current relationships.

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