In honor of #WorldRefugeeDay this week, we’re happy to share a few stories from some of the changemakers working tirelessly to make a difference. In this post, we feature Iman Bakour-Aziz, Syrian Project Outreach Coordinator for Jewish Family Service of San Diego, who is part of our North County Hub community.
Syrian Project Outreach Coordinator, Jewish Family Service of San Diego
What is Jewish Family Service and what role does it have with refugee work?
Since its inception in 1918, Jewish Family Service of San Diego has offered resettlement services to newly arriving refugees and asylees from around the world. Today, our Refugee Resettlement department serves approximately 45 people each month. We help them adjust to their new lives here in the U.S. We help them learn English. We assist them to navigate the medical system, banks, and public transportation. We provide: a fully furnished apartment, airport pick up, acculturation services, translation/ESL services, employment services, advocacy, and more. When we pick them up from the airport, they have only their memories, their fears, and a bag of belongings. They are ready to start from scratch, in a foreign country, with new customs and traditions, and a new language.
What have you learned since beginning working on this project?
The goal of the US Refugee Program is achieving self-sufficiency through early employment and the resettlement agencies are tasked in assisting new refugees achieve this goal.
I have learned that the US Refugee Program is a very complex process involving many federal government entities and local service providers. The goal of the US Refugee Program is achieving self-sufficiency through early employment and the resettlement agencies are tasked in assisting new refugees achieve this goal.
The great impact the initial resettlement services have on the future path of the successful refugee’s integration in their new community. Getting the local community involved is the best thing we can do to help the new comers.
I have also been surprised by the lack of information in the San Diego community about refugees, the process, and their contribution to our community. Therefore, raising awareness and educating the community about the refugee resettlement process is one of the most important aspects of our work.
Lastly, I’ve learned how rewarding this work can be, when you see refugees thrive and work toward rebuilding their life.
What is one piece of information you wish everyone understood about refugee resettlement?
The community support is key to a successful refugee!
How can someone get involved with Jewish Family Service’s refugee work?
JFS offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for community members that wish to get involved. You can apply on-line or contact the Refugee Resettlement Volunteer coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JFS also collects in-kind donation of furniture, household items, school supplies etc.
Contact Refugee Resettlement Program Assistant (858) 637-3030