United Way is a community-based organization with a global reach. We fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Through our worldwide network, we possess the ability to address challenges that cross regional, national and international lines.
United Ways across the globe prioritize culturally specific and responsive services to improve outcomes for all children and families. We invest in partner organizations that empower refugees and families in culturally competent ways. This not only enables people to contribute to the economy, but such partnerships make real our values of inclusion and opportunity. Every person needs to feel safe, have financial security, and have a sense of purpose so they are able to succeed, thrive and create change.
In February, United Way Worldwide President and CEO, Brian Gallagher, traveled to El Paso, Texas to see how migrants and residents along the U.S.-Mexico border are coping with the situation there. Gallagher visited a local YMCA, a family shelter, a classroom and more, meeting with people from around the world looking for greater opportunity, security and a better future for themselves and their families.
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United Way’s work in Europe has helped refugees and asylum-seekers adapt to their new lives and gain the skills they need, identifying the most critical factors to successful integration, such as language and job training.
The objective of the European Refugee Initiative in France, Germany and England as to strengthen communities by mobilizing NGO, government and corporate entities to facilitate the integration of refugees and asylum seekers.
In 2007, Zeynab Muhamed was living at a refugee camp in Kenya after being forced to flee her home country of Ethiopia. When Zeynab was offered the opportunity to re-settle, she decided to move to Canada. But a clerical error meant Zeynab could only bring five of her six children. Her infant daughter, Nasteha, had to remain in Kenya.
Devastated, Zeynab and the rest of her family traveled to British Columbia. With the support of the Early Years First Steps Refugee Program, a United Way of the Lower Mainland-developed initiative, Zeynab learned how to shop for groceries, drive a car and other skills required for her new home. Meanwhile, social service agencies worked to bring her daughter over. It took more than three years, but they were finally reunited.
In 2016, Zeynab became a Canadian citizen. Although arriving in Canada was like “going to another world,” as she put it, it was also the start of a new life for and her family.
With a third of its population living in poverty, Brownsville, Texas is home to some of the poorest children in America. The United Way of Southern Cameron County is laser-focused on helping shift he odds for those children, by supporting Brownsville families with education, financial stability and health initiatives.
On top of that, United Way is providing funding for food, clothing, temporary shelter, and medical exams for migrants who land at Brownsville’s settlement house and homeless shelter. United Way has solved small but critical problems – like replacing the ice maker at the homeless shelter that stopped working during the heat of the Texas summer. And United Way has tackled larger problems: sending volunteers and its own staff to the settlement house to streamline the intake process.
Find out more about life on the border, especially poverty, the social safety net and education issues, here.