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Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees – July Newsletter – MFA Perspective

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Syrian refugees and their mentors, along with SCN’s volunteer coordinator, in Chicago

How You Can Assist Syrian Refugees

On the most recent MFA webinar on June 22, Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, Founder & Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network, advised our Participating Organizations as to what local groups can do to welcome Syrian refugees and help them to integrate into their communities.

The Syrian Community Network (SCN) puts the imperative to “welcome the stranger” into action and is a model for how organizations can step in and help refugees transition to their new lives in America. In a new and unfamiliar country, refugees face the challenge of adjusting to a different culture and way of life. SCN’s programs—including rental assistance, mentorship, job placement and skills training—give refugees the tools they need to succeed.

One of their most successful initiatives has been a mentorship program, which pairs members of the community with Syrian refugee families. The photo of Aylan Kurdi—the small Syrian boy whose body tragically washed up on shore in September 2015—motivated many people to seek out volunteer opportunities to help Syrian refugees. In response to this outpouring of concern and driven by the values of their faith, SCN initiated the mentorship program.

Mentors have been “an inspiration,” said Suzanne. They have connected refugees with jobs, taken them to job interviews, signed up children for programs, helped the refugees drive, and rallied their own communities to help the families make big purchases. The mentors often go back to their communities to share their positive experiences with others. One mentor wrote a reflection about his experience with a refugee family and the impact it had on him. Suzanne encouraged others to start mentorship programs in their own cities to welcome refugees and help them to integrate.

Suzanne Sahloul’s presentation and the work of SCN are an inspiration to those of us involved in the cause of Syrian refugees. We highly recommend that all MFA constituents watch this webinar, which provides very practical guidance for what anybody or any organization can do in their own community to welcome newly-arrived refugees.

Watch the webinar: It Takes a Community #RefugeesWelcome

We welcome your thoughts and comments and will be happy to assist with your efforts to get involved.