On Tuesday, January 8th, we went to a meeting of Cleveland Peace Action at Market Garden Brewery on West 25th Street where the subject for the evening was the current world refugee crisis, which involves over 68 million displaced people. The main speaker was Ms. Mika Timura, Community Engagement and Development Specialist for US Together, whose mission is “to coordinate, organize, and initiate services to immigrants and refugees through education, advocacy, support services, information, referrals, and networking opportunities in order to strengthen the community that we live in.” Mr. Patrick Kearns, the Executive Director of Refugee Response, also spoke for a few minutes.
Ms. Timura used to work as an English as a Second Language instructor in Lakewood before joining the staff of US Together in 2018. On this occasion, she discussed the refugee crisis centering on five countries: Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. She clearly explained the histories of each of these countries to show how the current problems came to be. A consistent thread seemed to be that displacement took place as a result of government corruption, civil war, or external forces. Thus, it was clear that refugees are victims of a disaster outside of their control and are not to blame for their situation.
When it was his turn to speak, Mr. Kearns spoke with great passion about what he had witnessed when he lived for years in a refugee camp on the Myanmar border. He detailed the challenges that refugee workers face and the extraordinary resilience of the refugees themselves. He also talked about the fine work that his agency is doing to help people resettle in Cleveland including recently initiated programs aimed at helping young people succeed socially and academically.
In the course of the ensuing discussion, it was asked what more could we do help refugees who are in the process of resettling. Fortunately, there was a person present who worked in a trauma unit; she shared with us details about some of the physical/psychological afflictions most common with refugees and thus had specific suggestions regarding donations (clothes, toys) to such facilities that would be greatly appreciated.
Both Ms. Timura and Mr. Kearns proved to be effective speakers who really helped us to realize what displaced people often have to undergo. They also helped us to realize how fortunate we are to have the safety and comfort that we enjoy here in the US. Many of the people who come to our firm for help are also refugees from violence in their own country. Our firm helps them to apply for Asylum in the United States. You can read some of their stories elsewhere on our website.