Tag Archives: MCC Refugee Services

Welcoming Mu Lah’s Family: A Guest Volunteer Post

This spring Jessi and Tyler joined our Taking Root team to give Mu Lah’s* family a warm welcome to Minnesota. As fellow newcomers to the Twin Cities, Jessi and Tyler were looking for a way to meet their neighbors and explore their new community. Read on to hear Jessi’s story of the blessing of friendship they received from Mu Lah’s family. A couple of months ago my husband and I were still relatively new to Minnesota and were aching for a way to meet new people and get involved. We knew that Minneapolis/St. Paul was home to one of the nation’s largest refugee populations and felt called to refugee support services. We had just spent two years in West Africa with the Peace Corps and knew how difficult it was to adjust to a new place, culture, and pace of life. To our great fortune, we found out about MCC … Continue reading

Share
Posted in Uncategorized, Volunteers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Sprucing: Cleaning supplies needed to welcome new refugee families

After the bitter chill of winter, Mae Lay Mu is ready to throw the windows wide open in her apartment and feel the fresh air infuse her home. Mae Lay Mu arrived in Minnesota with her husband and children during January and felt cooped up in their new home. Now that the weather is warming and birds are singing, Mae Lay Mu is ready for a change. She loves her new apartment but realized that the dirt and winter road salt had left her home gritty and in need of a spring cleaning. Determined to get her home looking and feeling as fresh as the weather outside, Mae Lay Mu set to work with her broom, all-purpose cleaner, vinegar, baking soda, bucket, and cleaning rags, all provided by generous donors to MCC Refugee Services. Can you help a new refugee like Mae Lay Mu spruce up their new home for … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , Leave a comment

Inspiring Stability: Minneapolis landlord rents to refugees

For many refugees one of the most exciting aspects of resettlement is the chance to live in their own home. This opportunity is only possible through the generosity of landlords who give refugees a chance to be great tenants, even when they don’t have a rental history in the US. One of our partners in the effort to house refugees is local Minneapolis landlord, Bill Bryant. Bill has lived in the Phillips community in Minneapolis for many years and has been an active community leader for the past ten years. Part of his community involvement has included founding the Southside Rental Property Group (website under construction), an organization which strives to educate and organize landlords and tenants in the Phillips community, including the refugee community. Bill began renting to refugees three years ago, and in the past few years has rented to several Somali families. His interest in the Somali … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , , Leave a comment

Dolma (Iraqi-style Stuffed Grape Leaves)

A challenge to prepare, but a delight to eat! Ingredients 1 (16 ounce) jars grape leaves 2 lbs beef or 2 lbs lamb, minced 1 cup long-grain uncooked rice (basmati rice works best) 3/4 cup tomato sauce 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 medium onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 pinch ground cardamom 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice 2/3 cup canola oil 4 -5 carrots water Directions Soak grape leaves in water for 20 minutes. Drain. Peel and slice carrots lengthwise and line bottom of pot with them. This helps keep the grape leaves from sticking to the pot. Soak rice in hot water for 10 minutes and drain. In a large bowl, combine rice, beef, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , , Leave a comment

Gratitude and Respect

I have so much respect and admiration for church co-sponsors. That may not be surprising coming from someone who spends most of her time trying to recruit co-sponsors, but it’s true. Co-sponsorship isn’t always easy, but few truly worthwhile experiences are. It takes courage to choose to befriend a new refugee family you’ve never met.  Just the first step—meeting a family at the airport, who may not speak your language, can be outside one’s comfort zone. Besides the potential awkwardness of meeting someone new, co-sponsorship is an emotional experience.  It’s difficult to watch people you care about face barriers as they work towards becoming established. But, that vulnerability also opens you up to the possibility of being changed and receiving the gifts that refugees have to offer. It’s the relationship that leads to more welcoming and just communities. “People view hospitality as quaint and tame partly because they do not … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , Leave a comment

A Friend Like You

Have you or someone you’ve known ever lived abroad for an extended period of time? If so, you know that the adventure was both exciting and at times lonely.  Learning a new language, engaging foreign customs, and attempting to navigate complex city transportation can be intimidating.  Living with a host family or becoming friends with a local can make all the difference in bolstering your courage to try new things.  Refugees who come to live in Minnesota face similar situations.  Four families are coming to Minnesota in the next month who are in need of a friend like you.  Please consider becoming a Volunteer Befriender for one of these families. The need is immediate and specific. The first week of December a Karen father and his 18 year old son are arriving and will be living in St. Paul.  The father was a farmer in Burma before his family fled … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , , Leave a comment

Befriending Paw Moo: A Guest Volunteer Post

Refugee resettlement simply would not be possible without the support of dedicated volunteers like Pang. Herself an immigrant, Pang was looking for a way to give back to the community by helping others adjust to life in Minnesota. Read on to hear the heartwarming story of the friendship that has developed between Pang and her new refugee friend, Paw Moo*. My name is Pang and I’m a Befriender to Paw Moo. Paw Moo and I have been working together to help her have an easier time adjusting to her new life here in Minnesota for about one month now. I visit her twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays. Paw Moo lives with her son in a one bedroom apartment. On my first meeting with Paw Moo, I observed that she is very talkative and funny. Paw Moo said that she likes to make new friends and meet new people … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , Leave a comment

We take one computer, then open…Fantastic!

Every year MCC Refugee Services provides Employment assistance to about 150 refugees and asylees. Each of those individuals hopes to become self-sufficient as soon as possible but the search for a job is not easy. Recently, we’ve found that volunteering provides refugees a great opportunity to gain helpful US work experience, practice their English skills, and give back to their new community. In September 2011, we connected with a relatively new non-profit called Free Geek Twin Cities . Free Geek’s mission is two pronged: 1) to decrease electronic waste by recycling or refurbishing used donated computers and 2) to provide computers and computer education to people in the community who otherwise cannot access them. Our main goal for refugees who volunteer is for them to gain US work experience but the six refugees and asylees who have begun volunteering at Free Geek have gained so much more. Afia* came to … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , , Leave a comment

Invited by the President

globe photo

We’re often asked how particular refugee groups end up in Minnesota. Why is Minnesota home to more Somalis than anywhere else in the country? Why are there so many Karen people on the east side of St. Paul? Who chooses which refugee groups are granted entry into the United States? These are complicated questions to answer, but here is a little information to get you started. The answers to the first questions are pretty much the same: people want to live near people like them. National and local resettlement agencies try to take this into account when placing newly arrived refugees, and communities grow as families gravitate to the same areas to be near cultural centers, friends and family, religious life, ethnic grocery stores, and public transportation. Minnesota’s existing refugee communities and welcoming culture make it an attractive place to refugees resettled in other states as well.  In addition, refugee … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , Leave a comment

Curl Up with a Good Book–for a Cause!

As the temperature begins to drop, the coziness of a warm blanket and a soft couch start to sound more and more attractive. The beginning of fall means we can drink hot tea again and pull out our favorite sweaters. Instead of switching on the television, why not cuddle up with a good book? MCC Refugee Services has just the book for you—This Much I Can Tell You: Stories of Courage and Hope from Refugees in Minnesota. Published in June, this collection of personal refugee stories is sure to capture your attention and keep it. These are refugee journey stories told in the own words of 18 men and women from around the world—one of the few books of its kind. This is a rare chance to hear refugees’ stories in their own voices. It’s hard to put down a book that draws you into the joys and sorrows of … Continue reading

Share
Tagged , , Leave a comment