Refugees are people who have fled their homelands due to persecution or fear of persecution because of religious beliefs, ethnicity, or political affiliation. They move on to temporary residence in refugee camps, typically in neighboring countries, where they remain until another country grants them permission to enter - many refugees have lived in camps for up to twenty years. They marry, have children, and grow old in a place that can never really be "home." Once a refugee obtains permission from the U.S. government to resettle here, they go through a rigorous series of interviews by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). After the interview process, provided that the refugees are accepted, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) arranges for their transportation from the camp to the US. Finally, refugees arrive in the Upstate, and that's where our work begins!
From the time of arrival at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, World Relief works with volunteers from the local community to provide resettlement services. During their first 90 days in the US, World Relief provides the following core services:
- Provision of safe, affordable housing and initial rent assistance
- Provision of furniture and basic household items
- Arrangements for medical examinations and necessary immunizations
- Assistance in applying for refugee benefits and social security cards
- Enrollment in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes
- Assistance with employment and job readiness training
- Orientation to life in America
- Translation services as needed
After the initial resettlement period (up to 90 days), World Relief Upstate works with both volunteers and refugees for continuing services such as employment, healthcare, school orientation, friendship, and language partners. These services help move refugees from stability to integration.
Check out our Get Involved page to see how you can participate in welcoming refugees to our community.