On June 20th, 2018, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines hosted an event in celebration of World Refugee Day. Guests from all walks of life joined together at Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) to learn more about their refugee neighbors and the innovative programs that are making a difference in their lives, while at the same time adding rich diversity to the Des Moines community.
The event brought together a panel of knowledgeable guests who are extremely passionate about the refugee journey and their path to attaining self-sufficiency in the United States. The speakers included Boaz Nkingi – a representative and advocate for the refugees who call our community home, Carly Ross – Director of the USCRI Des Moines, Nick Wuertz – Director of Refugee Community Services at LSI, and Eskinder Negash – President and CEO USCRI.
The session, which was called “Neighbors Not Strangers: Refugees at Home in Central Iowa,” commemorated the journey of the many courageous individuals who flee their countries in search of a new, stable life in the United States. The guests in attendance toured LSI classrooms before enjoying lunch catered by refugee-owned Kathmandu Restaurant. Our panelists discussed the ways in which LSI, USCRI and other organizations help refugees in transitioning to a new normal in our communities and how the different organizations and interests can continue supporting this work in the future.
Since its opening in 2010, USCRI Des Moines has been fully committed to providing services to the lively and diverse refugee community that is in great need of help. Through programs like Reception and Placement, Matching Grant, Refugee Family Strengthening Program and the Refugee Wellness Program, the office is dedicated to ensuring a secure and kind adjustment to new life, new community and new culture.