Imagine having to leave behind your home, friends, family, church … everything you ever knew … and start life in a new country. For us in South Louisiana, that concept is not so foreign having lived through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But even before that catastrophe, Catholic Charities had three decades of helping people rebuild their lives in a new country.
Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge began resettling refugees after the fall of Vietnam in 1974 on behalf of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops as part of our Catholic mission to welcome the stranger. Today, our refugee clients are fleeing war, violence and religious persecution from Burma, Iraq, Eritrea, Bhutan, the Congo, and others.
After extensive background checks by the State Department, refugees arrive in this country—most directly from refugee camps--with no more than the clothes on their backs and a bag of papers from the UN—the agency that grants them “refugee” status.
Before the refugees arrive, Catholic Charities staff are required by the federal government to set up an apartment for them, complete with basic furniture, household items and some food. After health screening and the intake process are complete, then the real work begins.
First priority is helping the men and women to find work. Children are enrolled in school. Without exception, all who are able to work find jobs—usually minimum wage manual labor jobs.
The refugees go through an intensive 30 day orientation after they come here. They learn about riding the bus, when to call 911, how to do laundry, housekeeping, shopping at Walmart—every day skills we take for granted.
The State Department has informed us to expect about 100 refugees in the next few months. We need your help.
- Donate basic furniture and household goods—beds, kitchen table and chairs, sofas
- Volunteer to mentor refugees to become their first American friends and mentors.
- Offer a job to a refugee who is ready to work and support themselves and their families.