Do Good Well: How advocates can support the local refugee community

Get Informed. Focus Efforts. Increase Impact.

West Michigan has a strong history of welcoming refugees. There are around 25,000 refugees in our area who deserve our support. Come learn about how global and national refugee policy impacts your neighbors, and what you can do locally to make West Michigan a welcoming environment for all.

Together we will learn about the global refugee crisis, address questions about the U.S. refugee resettlement program including the selection and vetting process, and explore strategies for how to support our refugee friends and neighbors.

The event is free but there is a suggested donation of $10 which will be used to help support refugee children and families in our community.

The event will be held on Monday, February 20th from 6-8 PM at the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids Cathedral Square (Map).

Register here.

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Welcoming Refugees in 2017

Over the past couple of months, we have received numerous calls and emails from individuals in our community interested in supporting refugees in our community. Many ask how we can make our community a welcoming place for newcomers. As we kick off the New Year we asked several of our refugee friends and colleagues to share their thoughts on what we can do to welcome refugees in 2017.

Abdi Osman:

“First, they need help and guidance. Refugees go through a lot that most people can’t imagine. Those fortunate enough to come to the United States come seeking peace, equality, freedom, and justice. It’s not their choice to come here. They have been forced. I mean, no one really wants to leave their native country. So when we see a refugee family we should treat them with respect and give them a warm welcome and support them with what we have. We need to put our differences aside to help them so they can also help us—learn their ways and help teach your ways.”

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Be There for Refugee Children in 2016

When refugee children enter our community, they bring with them a distinct set of gifts. These talents and perspectives are often hidden behind layers of cultural misunderstandings and language differences. The Refugee Education Center seeks to peel back these layers and unleash the potential of refugee children in West Michigan. For the past 10 years, we have provided education and youth development services to newly arrived refugee children and their families. We focus on meeting the unique needs of refugee children in our community so that they can succeed in school and in life.

We have seen the power of education to transform lives. A young gentleman from Bhutan recently shared his experience with guests at our 10th birthday celebration. Tula began coming to our summer program several years ago. He had recently come with his family from a refugee camp in Nepal. His education had been interrupted and he had limited English but he was determined to learn. Our staff and volunteers worked with Tula that summer and throughout the coming year to learn English and adjust to life in the United States. The following year, Tula participated in our summer leadership program and this spring, Tula will graduate.

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You’re Invited!

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Welcoming Refugees Panel a Success!

Last night, the Kent District Library and World Affairs Council of West Michigan hosted a panel discussion on welcoming refugees in West Michigan. The panel is part of a three-part series on migration. If you missed the event you can check out the recorded live stream below. And join us for the next two events on Monday the 25th and Monday May 2nd from 6:30-7:30 PM at the Kent District Library in Kentwood.


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Save the Date: WMRECC is Turning 10!

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Join us as we celebrate 10 years of welcoming refugee children and families in West Michigan!

Where: Aquinas College

When: Thursday, September 22nd (time TBD)

For more information about this and other upcoming events call (616) 247-9611 or e-mail info@westmirefugee.org.

See you there!

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WMRECC Says “Goodbye” to Co-Founder and Chair

Almost ten years ago, Frederick Bw’Ombongi began dreaming with his friends and former coIMG_1029-workers about a center for refugees to receive education support and to celebrate and retain their culture. The dream quickly became a reality and the West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center was born.

Years later, we owe so much of our success to this man who not only had the audacity to dream, but a willingness to make this dream a reality—ensuring that refugee students and their families can receive the educational support and youth development services needed to succeed in school and in life in West Michigan. As Fred steps down from the board of directors, we are filled with gratitude for his years of service and the contagious passion that has drawn so many of us to this work.

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