Refugee Services Outshine Hatred and Terror
Throughout more than 12 years of fleeing from one refugee camp to another in war-torn Liberia, Benson and Felicia Chea never knew where their next meal would come from. Living in constant fear and danger, one of their last memories of Liberia was the sight of Felicia's parents' house burning to ashes. Finally, the Cheas have stopped running. With support from the refugee resettlement program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, a partner agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), the Cheas and their three young sons have reconstructed their lives in the United States. Speaking little English when they arrived, they have gained language skills from a trained church volunteer, while a small supportive network has helped ease the transition to a strange new culture. They are hopeful about the future and thankful to have a safe place to call home. It is this hope and welcome that is celebrated each year during National Migration Week (NMW), next observed January 2-8, 2005. "The U.S. Catholic Bishops established this observance over 20 years ago to encourage Catholics and others to answer the gospel call to welcome the strangers among us," says MRS Executive Director, Mark Franken. "NMW has had a profound impact in that time by increasing the Church's awareness of and response to the plight of migrants, immigrants, refugees and people on the move."
Although there are an estimated 13.8 million refugees worldwide, less than one percent are resettled in another country each year. Through the Church's network of more than 100 diocesan resettlement agencies, MRS guided just over 14,500 refugees to new and safer lives in the United States during fiscal year 2004. Additional information and National Migration Week resources can be found at www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml.
For more information, contact Mark Franken at (202) 541-3169 or firstname.lastname@example.org.