Practical Ways to Help Refugees

I have distinct memories of being a little girl in inner-city Minneapolis and having weekly dinners with, visiting and going to church with our neighbours, Hmong families who were refugees admitted to Minnesota in the 70s. When I was a teenager, Somalian refugees moved into our freezing tundra. Some of them attended high school with me. We had just both moved to Edina from Muslim countries, and while I was too shy and insecure to reach out to them, I often felt like I had more in common with the girls in head wraps than the blond headed girls I sat in math with.

NOW, Minnesota is once again accepting Syrian refugees and I'm so proud of my home state. While we still don't know how many or when they'll arrive we're preparing and so I'm reaching out to all of you to help. I don't live in Minnesota anymore, I live in Nashville, TN where no moves have been made to accept our friends and victims of war. But I'm still going to give. The @International Institute of Minnesota is accepting donations for refugees now. You can send in money, of course, but you can also send in goods. 

Baby Items:
Diapers (Only New)
Wipes (Only New)
Baby clothes

Winter Clothing:
Gloves, Hats, Scarves

Household Items:
Tea kettles
Garbage cans (Only New)
Garbage bags
Bed linens (laundered)
Blankets (laundered)
Towels (laundered)
Dish towels (laundered)
Laundry baskets

School Supplies:

Other Items:
Maps of the City
Gift Cards (only to Cub Foods, Target, Goodwill)
Bus Cards

If you've felt like you want to help and haven't known what to do, I highly encourage you to send something in. You can ship items here: 

International Institute of Minnesota
1694 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108


And for my Minnesota friends, I'm delighted to share that you can even mentor a refugee. I've never been a refugee from war, I don't know the horrors they're escaping from. But I HAVE been a foreigner living in a foreign country. It's lonely, there are things everyone else takes for granted that you don't understand. You hope that people will see you as a person who wants friends and happiness, not just a product of your country. When I lived in Uzbekistan I got tired of trying to apologise for America, I got tired of trying to explain things away. I just wanted friends, a community who cared and accepted me for me. I found that in pockets, but it took years and most people weren't interested in letting their daughters be friends with the American girls down the street. So I'm encouraging you to OPEN YOUR HEARTS and just accept refugees the way they come. Show in interest in getting to know them personally, and stop viewing them as a side product of their circumstances. You may find you have more in common than you could ever know. 



Gabriella Llewellyn1 Comment