It Takes Courage to be a Refugee
Lansing is home to a mass population of refugees from around the world. These refugees flee their homes, businesses and communities to escape persecution and war. They have lost friends and family members and lived in places where they had the least amount of control over their lives.
Refugees are guaranteed assistance for six months. After the six months these individuals are left abandoned in a world unfamiliar to them. Luckily, they can seek out the Lansing community for help.
The Refugee Development Center in Lansing has has a mission to provide the almost 400-600 hundred refugees who resettle in the area annually, with an educational center and the tools they need to succeed. The center, independently funded, is located within Christ Lutheran Church. RDC aspires to connect diverse refugee populations with the resources they to need to prosper as United States citizens.
See it: Shirin Kambin Timms, Executive Director of the Refugee Development Center talks about the mission to help the refugees and the importance the center serves for the community.
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Hear it: RDC has hundreds of volunteers a year who assist with the education of refugees of all ages, children to adults, to help them adapt and move toward self-sufficiency. Michigan State University students, Courtney Reed and Melissa Jensen, talk about their experience with volunteering at RDC.
Fleeing for their Lives; A Refugee Story
Michigan State University Student, Dilo Benjamin speaks of his father’s life as a refugee and the trials and tribulations his family faced while fleeing for their lives. He and his family were one of the few to win the United States Visa lottery. The civil war they fled is still being fought today. In this horrific story of a man seeking a world far better than his current one, we get a closer look at the day in the life of a refugee.
Click the picture to the right to listen to Michigan State University students Dilo Benjamin and Dua Aldasouqi as they share their refugee experiences.
Estimating the Refugee Population of Lansing; A Refugee Project
The Families and Communities Together Coalition, or FACT, planned a research project in 2006, lead by Michigan State University faculty members Steven Gold, Sociology; John Melcher, Urban & Regional Planning Program; Lori Post, Communication Arts & Sciences; Sergio Keck, Lansing School District, to accurately estimate the refugee and immigrant population in the greater Lansing area. The project aptly named Estimating the Refugee Population of Lansing is still ongoing and will also focus on the individuals’ social and demographic attributes.
Faculty members as well as a graduate student from the Michigan State University department of and Urban and Regional Plannings Community and Economic Development Program in conjunction will conduct the project with members of the Lansing Immigrant and Refugee Resource Collaborative. Acquiring accurate estimates will allow the assistance of attaining public and private funds for resettlement needs and services for the refugees. It is important for us to help these individuals adapt to out nation because we not only teach them the way but they can in turn teach us a new way of life.
John Melcher talks about refguees in terms of The Power of We Consortium, a unique, sustainable model for capacity building and community improvement is transforming Michigan’s Capital Area.
More from RDC: Click picture below to hear Executive Director Shirin Kambin Timms talk more about the unique refugee center.
Below is a presentation from the Refugee Development Center with general information about refugees; who they are, what they’ve been through, and how RDC fits into it all.
More refugee information
Click the map below to see Lansing Refugee support centers.
The Cultural Orientation Resource Center keeps a current fiscal year admission statistics list of refugees who come to the United States. The number of refugees admitted to the U.S. since January 1, 2009 was last updated February 6, 2009 and consists of 17,214 refugees.
For more information on refugees, visit:
UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency