By Rebeccah Rendall
Our mission here at Catholic Charities Indianapolis Refugee Resettlement is to focus a concerted effort on rebuilding the lives of newly arrived refugees. In order to fully understand the complicated and unique situations that refugees must deal with, it is important to understand exactly who a refugee is. In 1951, when the United Nations established its own branch to assist refugees around the world, the UN defined a refugee as anyone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country” (http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c125.html). Basically, a refugee is a person who is forced, due to fear of persecution, out of his or her own country. Eventually, through a series of processes, some refugees are resettled to Indianapolis. This is where our organization comes into the picture. We are here to help as our clients acclimate themselves to the United States and our customs.
How then, you may wonder, does this relate to global solidarity? Global solidarity is simple “a call to recognize each individual person as a part of one human family” (http://www.archindy.org/cc/globalsolidarity/). This is exactly what we do every single day. We, as a group of people dedicated to improving the lives of refugees in Indianapolis, want to make our clients feel human again. We do not want to trivialize their experience or act as if it did not happen. Rather, we are here to aid the rebuilding process. We want these refugees to know that they are out of harm and that they have friends here. They are not pawns in a game of war. They are not denied rights because of their ethnicity or their religion. Instead, we want to restore their humanity through our services. We want every refugee that enters Indianapolis to know that this place is home. We do this by setting up apartments before they arrive, making sure they have adequate food for a few weeks, and providing them with necessary furniture. We also help with vitally important appointments such as meetings at the social security office or mandatory health screenings. We also have amazing volunteers that tutor students, teach English classes, help clients learn the bus routes, and organize our storage facilities.
You may be reading this and thinking, “That is great. A few people help a few people, but I could never devote that much time to refugees.” We want to challenge this notion! Every little bit helps. Here are a few ways that you can help Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program. You can donate items such as clothes and kitchen items. If you have something that you would like to donate, please contact Robert Newport at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also volunteer for as much time as you can commit. If you can only volunteer for one hour per week, that is fantastic! We would love to find a place for you in our organization. If you would like to volunteer or want more information about volunteering, then please contact Mike McCarthy at email@example.com. If these options are not appealing to you, do not worry! You can still do something! We want to spread the word about refugees and their stories. One way that you can do this is by simply telling your friends and families about the realities that refugees face. You can also utilize social media. We have an active Facebook page called “Catholic Charities Indianapolis Refugee and Immigrant Services” or http://facebook.com/ccirefugee. You can also follow us on Twitter @CCI_Refugee. The idea is that by spreading knowledge about refugees, we are restoring their humanity. By playing a part in restoring their humanity, you can also become an integral part of their life. To us, this is the epitome of global solidarity.
Rendall recently served as a social media intern for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.