At the beginning of June, I marked the end of my first year with Friends of Refugees. When I came, I knew that coming alongside New Americans was a larger, more important task than ever.
Between 2010 and 2020, the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide doubled. I could never have imagined that this number would grow exponentially in just a few short months.
Today, after the US’ pull-out from Afghanistan and beginning of the war in Ukraine, the worldwide number of refugees is the highest it has ever been in recorded history. Georgia has received nearly 2,000 Afghan Refugees, and more are still arriving.
These numbers are staggering and heartbreaking. If I were left with only statistics, it would be easy to slip into despair.
Instead, I have gotten to see our network rise to meet these times.New Americans in our community have worked to welcome and integrate newcomers with deep hospitality. Our staff have met with New Americans and are customizing new programs to meet people where they are.
As a result, we are now offering new literacy classes tailored to Afghan women who have never learned how to read or write. It’s been a joy to see these women trek through rain or heat to arrive at class. Many of them are thrilled to be in a school environment for the very first time.
These exciting innovations are bittersweet. I wish they weren’t needed, but I couldn’t be more proud of the commitment to pursuing abundant life that I have seen.
This was not the first year I expected to have in Clarkston, but it was a year that filled me with hope and determination. As we welcome new arrivals here, my prayer is that their first years here will offer them the same.
Your support is making it possible.
-Kendra Jeffreys, Executive Director