Almost 9 million refugees -- mostly women and children -- have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country. All over Europe, Unitedb Way continues to step upto provide immediate and long-term relief.
Ania’s story is just one example.
Ania doesn’t know that her home country is engaged in a war with Russia. ”I came to Romania on vacation,” says the 5-year old who traveled 1,000 miles from Kyiv by train and bus with her mother, Maria. In customs at Sighetu Marmatiei, Maria managed logistics for their journey to a host family in Bucharest. Meanwhile, Ania took part in children’s activities provided by United Way Romania. She drew, modeled play dough, had a snack and played make-believe with toys. It’s not home, but it makes the trip more maneagable for both mother and child.
There’s a human cost to economic growth. Some 9 million children are left behind in China’s rural villages as parents migrate to urban areas for better jobs. These “left behind” children of in-country migrants are more likely to struggle in school, develop social and emotional problems, and get involved in criminal activity. United Way teamed up with China Charity Federation to create Love and Care Children’s Homes, safe and welcoming places for children to get the educational and emotional support they need. Typically located within a school or community center, these homes also facilitate regular communication between kids and parents. There are now 40 model homes in 17 provinces throughout China, benefitting more than 10,000 children.
Starting over in a new place can be challenging. Learning a new language and adapting to a fast-paced culture and world of work are just a few of the barriers that new Americans face. For immigrants and refugees starting a new life in Minnesota, support can be found through the Southeast Asian Refugee Community Home (SEARCH), a partner of Greater Twin Cities United Way that provides settlement and job training programs to improve the economic well-being of new Americans. With these challenges in mind, SEARCH provides training programs with tailored support and a starting point for developing in-demand skills, putting job seekers on a path to thrive.
Vancouver, British Columbia
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. Now, Zeynab is 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 America’s poorest children. United Way of Southern Cameron County works to shift the odds for those children with its education, financial stability and health initiatives. And United Way also provides for food, clothing, temporary shelter, and medical exams for migrants in Brownsville’s settlement house and homeless shelter. That means solving small problems – like a new ice maker for the shelter this summer – and larger problems, like sending volunteers and its own staff to the settlement house to streamline the intake process.
Des Moines, Iowa
Coming as a refugee to Iowa from her homeland of Ghana, torn apart by civil war, Rebecca faced many barriers. No relatives, no job, no English. Rebecca turned to the HOPE Initiative, led by United Way of Central Iowa. She now has a job, a driver's license, is learning to read and write English. She knows her kids can have the future she always hoped for.
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Read more Stories of Hope in United Way's Blog