Refugee Resettlement Center Welcomes Those Fleeing Iraq, Syria

Published: Nov. 7, 2015 at 10:04 PM EST
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Some good neighbors are helping newly-arrived refugees settle into the Friendly City. Some refugees escaped conflict and are hoping to make Harrisonburg their new home.

There are estimated to be more than 50 million refugees around the world. More than 700,000 of them have fled from Syria to Europe this year alone. Some in search of a better life risked death while traveling.

"These people have gone through a lot of difficult experiences," said event organizer Raad Amer. "Some of them went through terrifying experiences."

Out of the hundreds of thousands of refugees looking for a new home, a handful have traveled more than 5,000 miles to get here to the Valley.

"It is a strange place when you first land here you know," said Amer, who is an immigrant himself.

He said the Refugee Resettlement Center helps them with their basic needs, but it is community groups that help them feel at home by extending a neighborly hand and diminishing any feelings of isolation.

"There's a lot of things different habits, traditions, and so to have somebody who speaks the language, you know, can be that bridge for you that you really need," Amer said.

That "bridge" is something Firas Mohammed has already experienced since he arrived from Turkey after fleeing from his native Iraq in late September.

Firas Mohammed said, "I feel welcome by all people in Harrisonburg, not just the Muslim community." "I felt like at home," he said. "It wasn't strange --because in Turkey, it felt strange."

Mosque leaders said this is just the start of a new chapter in helping refugees. They look to forward to organizing deeper efforts in helping refugees integrate into the community.