Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Mother’s Nightmare

Imagine, if you can, what it was like for a mother separated from her children to hear the news of 3 refugee travel bans and the suspension of the family reunification process she was depending on. If you add to that scenario a case of terminal cancer, unbelievably complex paperwork complications, and multiple travel cancellations, you might begin to understand a bit of Zaraha’s life experience. In the violence of the Somali civil war, Zahara’s first husband was killed and she became separated from her children. In 2009, she left her children with their aunt to keep them safe and then had to travel to the US as a refugee alone. In the years that followed, Zahara remarried and applied for her children to join her. She was also diagnosed with terminal cancer. In August of 2017, 8 years after she became separated from her youngest children, she finally received … Continue reading

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Winter Tapestry Project: What Do Participants Have to Say?

When you move to a new country, there are so many things to learn and you find that there are things that you didn’t even know that you needed to know! MCC’s Tapestry Project aims to help new refugee and immigrant arrivals navigate some of this crucial learning process. This six-session series brings together recently-arrived refugees, immigrants, community resource providers, and welcoming volunteers to strengthen the community. You can read more about Tapestry here . Mary (from South Sudan) and Leticia (Mexico) were two of the participants in our most recent Tapestry session in Mankato, and they were kind enough to share a few thoughts about their experience. What was your favorite part of Tapestry? Leticia enjoyed the visit to the Public Safety Center because she learned about how to use a fire extinguisher. Mary also enjoyed that visit because she learned the laws about how old children must be … Continue reading

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Donor Profile: Mindy and Steve

We often share the stories of refugee families who we’ve welcomed, but we wanted to take an opportunity to share about a couple of the people who make our work possible—individual donors! Meet Mindy and Steve. Steve has worked in the financial services industry for 32 years and Mindy works at Lifetime Fitness. They have three young adult children and are longtime members of University Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Mindy recalls first becoming interested in refugees when her church co-sponsored a Karen refugee family through MCC Refugee Services in 2002. The family they befriended included a single mom and her 6 school age boys. The family arrived in August, and Mindy stepped in to help with a whirlwind of school registrations and orientation. Mindy recalls being awed by how well this family managed, diving right into their new life and she reflected that it gave her a different perspective on … Continue reading

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The Chance of a Lifetime

We recently welcomed Tesfa, a single Ethiopian man who came without any family ties in Minnesota. Rather than securing long-term housing for him right away, we wanted to make sure he didn’t already have family or friends in the area that he might want to live with. Arrive Ministries, another local resettlement agency, knew of a host family that was happy to host Tesfa for his first weeks in Minnesota, and the arrangement worked out beautifully. On Tesfa’s first weekend here, we gave a volunteer the opportunity to bring Tesfa to church to help him make some community connections. It was an impactful experience for Tesfa and the volunteer, and our longtime volunteer Charlie Brown was kind enough to share the following reflection on his experience. It was a chance of a lifetime to be able to attend the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with Tesfa. Tesfa is a very social person … Continue reading

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Mariam’s Story: An Exercise in Persistence

When we went to greet Mariam at the airport, we were told to expect a woman who had lived through severe difficulties and who would come with nothing but the transit center-issued clothes on her back. But we learned that night that Mariam is a woman who refuses to be defined by her circumstances. She fled Somalia, leaving her 5 children with family and traveled through Indonesia, and Malaysia before coming to Minnesota as a refugee. To cope with the truly awful situations she lived in during her refugee journey, Mariam found a way to work nights so she could sleep during the day to avoid having to see many of the realities she lived in every day. By working every night, she was also able to save up some money and keep her spirits high. When we went to the airport to greet Mariam, we met a confident, self-made … Continue reading

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Welcoming Kathryn

We are so pleased to welcome Kathryn Berger to the MCC Refugee Services team in the role of Volunteer and Outreach Specialist. She fills the position formerly held by Melody Ward and has already jumped into coordinating co-sponsor teams and volunteers. We’re excited to have as part of our staff and we hope you have the chance to meet her soon! Five years ago – nearly to the date – I returned from my most recent cross-cultural “assignment” – that of Rome, Italy, where I coordinated my religious community’s international administrative center. I had been looking forward to coming home and after a brief experience working in higher-education, I can honestly say that here at MCC Refugee Services after only three weeks, I feel like I really have come home – back in a graced ministry that is at the heart of our heritage as Americans and our call as … Continue reading

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Refugees and Asylees Have the Right to Work

Recently, our Associate Director of Refugee Services, Mankato, Margo Druschel had the opportunity to collaborate with staff from the Department of Justice to share some great information about refugees’ employment rights in the US. Their article was published on the Greater Mankato Growth Workforce Series Blog, and we encourage you to read the full article there. Some of the concluding points they shared include: Refugees and Asylees have the right to work from the day they land in the US. It is their immigration status that gives authorization to work indefinitely. They are qualified to receive Social Security cards without employment restrictions. They are on a path to Citizenship, which starts with receiving the I-94 form at their arrival and automatically receiving the EAD Card, which expires after 2 years. At the end of 1 year, they are able to apply for Permanent Residency/Green Card, for which they are automatically … Continue reading

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Problems: A Matter of Perspective

Our case manager, Katia, went on a typical home visit to meet with a recently arrived Oromo refugee family. They had an interesting conversation as this couple reflected on their time so far in the United States and she was kind enough to share her reflections. During a break in our home visit, I asked our intern Carolyn if she had any questions to ask Yonas. I explained that he would be a good candidate for any questions she may have about the situation of refugees or the Oromo people as his family’s relationship with our office has been exceptionally strong and the family has demonstrated a deep comfort with me as their caseworker and friend. Carolyn asked what the situation for Yonas was like in Nairobi, Kenya, where the family was before arriving in Minnesota. “In Nairobi there are too many problems,” he explained. “The police follow you wherever … Continue reading

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A Remarkable Journey

We recently shared a fairly in-depth introduction to our Intensive Case Management (ICM) program on our blog. This program helps families with complex medical or mental health concerns to help them make a real connection with medical providers and help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to manage their own health in the long term.  This includes things like scheduling appointments, understanding what their providers are advocating, and following up with medications and insurance. You can read more about it in our previous blog post here. We wanted to share the story of another special family who has been a part of our ICM program. They have faced incredible hardship and their story is ongoing, but we have been so inspired by their resilience, devotion, and love. The Abdi family includes a mother and her three adult children—two sons and a daughter. They fled from Somalia to Ethiopia … Continue reading

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Too Much: A Call to Action

It’s just too much. I cannot begin to wrap my head around what it means for 66 million people to have been forcibly ripped from their homes and families. Saying that that equates to nearly 8 times the population of New York City doesn’t make it any easier to comprehend. I feel overwhelmed by videos that show 15,000 people arriving at a border crossing, the line stretching for miles. The mother of two small children myself, the story of a woman whose infant son was ripped from her arms and thrown into the fire before she was gang raped is physically sickening, almost unreadable. I can’t bear to imagine myself in that situation, so I look quickly away. It’s so tempting to click over to Facebook, think about what to make for dinner, wipe away the dust on my desk, anything to distract and numb. Improved technology and drone videos … Continue reading

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