CWS Harrisonburg holds storytelling and communication workshop for local refugee leaders

Published: Oct. 30, 2021 at 8:03 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - On Saturday, Church World Services Harrisonburg held a storytelling and communication workshop for leaders in the city’s immigrant and refugee communities to help them better connect with the surrounding community.

The goal of the training is to help refugees tell their stories, so people in the area get a better understanding of who they are and what they can contribute to the community.

“We keep building off these trainings and workshops and events to make sure that they understand they can do things here with the skills they have from back home and translate them here to make the community more inclusive for everybody and also find solutions to our own problems,” said Rodrigue Makelele, community organizer for CWS Harrisonburg.

The training is intended to help refugees become more engaged in the local community, so that everyone can work together to make Harrisonburg a better place for all.

“This is their home now, you know, people are not planning on going back to live in the countries that they fled from, so they have to be civically engaged in this community, give their best to the community, understand how the system works and be able to participate in the system,” said Makelele.

Makelele hopes hearing refugees’ stories will help the surrounding community understand the many ways refugees can help the community.

“What we would love for people to know is these communities have a lot of skills and gifts that they’re coming with and tapping on those skills would be very important for our community, so trying to understand who refugees are, where they come from, their skills, their knowledge, the things they’re passionate about,” he said.

CWS said the continued engagement training within refugee communities is even more important after the arrival of nearly 100 Afghan refugees earlier this month.

“We’ve been advocating for Afghan resettlement for a while and now that they’re here. We’re thinking of other ways to get them involved in the community, move forward and start building their new lives in this community,” said Makelele.

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