The IRC in Abilene, TX
The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In Abilene and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.
Who are refugees?
Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in the Congo DR, Iraq, Burundi, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
Why are refugees arriving in Abilene?
The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those fleeing conflict and persecution. Once refugees have been identified by the United Nations refugee agency and cleared for resettlement, the U.S. government works with the IRC and eight other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives in America. Out of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, fewer than 1 percent are considered for resettlement worldwide.
Refugees may be placed in a city where they have relatives or friends, or where there’s an established community that shares their language or culture. Other considerations include the cost of living and a community’s ability to provide medical services. However, as legal U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they choose.
Refugees arriving to Abilene need assistance in learning to navigate the city and connect with community. They are looking for ways to get engaged and to understand their new surroundings.
How does the IRC help refugees in Abilene?
Our programs are designed to ensure refugees thrive in America—whether ensuring children are enrolled in school, adults become self-reliant through employment or starting businesses, or families receive acute medical care they need to recover from trauma or illness. The IRC helps those in need to rebuild their lives and regain control of their future in their new home community.
Refugees are greeted and welcomed at the airport by IRC case workers and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:
- A furnished home
- Help with rent
- Health care
- Nutritious, affordable food
- English language classes
- Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
- Education for their children
- Social services and community support
- Legal services towards residency and citizenship
Our programs in Abilene include:
- Reception & Placement Services
- Intensive Case Management
- Health & Wellness Services
- Employment Services
- Vocational Training
- Short term financial assistance
- Immigration Services
- New Roots Community Gardens
- Children & Youth programming
- ESL classes
- Volunteer & Internship programming
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC in Abilene works very closely with the community at large in providing information, training, and language assistance. Every year, the IRC holds approximately 60 community presentations on refugees as well as training on working across language barriers. The IRC’s volunteer and internship opportunities allow students and young professionals to gain work experience in a culturally diverse setting. A number of employers in town look to the IRC to fill entry level jobs in their businesses and the IRC provides support with new hire paperwork and interpretation. IRC’s immigration and youth programming are open to all immigrants in the community.
How can I help refugees in Abilene?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Abilene. You can:
Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.
Volunteer Process and Opportunities: Read the steps you need to go through to become an IRC volunteer and see our current list of volunteer opportunities.
Internship Opportunities: See our current list of internship opportunities here.
New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: We’re collecting household supplies, school supplies, furniture, computers, and bikes for newly refugees. See how you can help.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own Fundraising Campaign (on- or offline). Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!
Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees or connect us to affordable housing options.
What do refugees contribute to Abilene?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, starting businesses and gaining citizenship.
Stories from refugees living in Abilene: Bhanu
Meet Bhanu, who was once a refugee from Bhutan and is now an american citizen and staff member at the IRC in Abilene.
Stories from refugees living in Abilene: Deepak
Meet Deepak, the owner of two local restaurants and a former refugee.
Stories from refugees in living in Abilene: Astrid
Astrid, her husband, and her daughter had a unique path from Cuba to Colombia to the United States. Read it in her own words below.
Our mission is to empower refugees to rebuild their lives, restore their sense of dignity, and fully participate in their new communities by providing compassionate support, resources and programs tailored to their unique needs. I urge you to join us in our efforts and encourage you to visit our website often. On behalf of the IRC in Dallas and Abilene staff, and the refugees we empower, you have my deepest gratitude. We are truly grateful for your support.Donna DuvinDonna Duvin is director of the IRC's Abilene office.
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