Who was that person speaking in a foreign language you heard at the supermarket? They were wearing kind of funny clothes, too. Very colorful, but not something we normally see in New Bern.
Where are they from? The answer to these questions is that perhaps those you see are refugees who have fled from terror and persecution to find hope and safety in our generous and welcoming part of North Carolina.
For over 20 years, refugees have come to call this their home. They arrive through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and have help from Interfaith Refugee Ministry (IRM) which assists with food, clothing, shelter, employment and orientation to life in America.
IRM will celebrate 25 years of helping those who come with nothing after perilous journeys, who left all they know and love behind them in their attempt to reach a place to live in peace. The first to arrive were those fleeing from the wreckage of Yugoslavia; Croats, Serbs, Bosnians – they came and were determined to build better lives. With the help of churches and the generosity of the community, they went to work and raised their children. Those children now have children of their own. Just think – you, the community-had a hand in saving those lives and ensuring those children grew to adulthood. Those children graduated from high school and college, got jobs, bought houses, paid taxes and contributed to the life of New Bern and many other communities in eastern North Carolina.
Over the years, the ethnicities and countries have changed, but the mission of Interfaith Refugee Ministry never has. We are dedicated to helping refugees rebuild their lives in eastern North Carolina. Simple, but profound that those from Burma, Iraq, Cuba, Colombia, Vietnam, and other countries have enriched the fabric of this community and have become contributing members of it through art, and music, and by just living here and becoming friends and neighbors.
For more information, please call 252-633-9002 or visit our website.
Submitted by: Susan S. Husson, Executive Director, Interfaith Refugee Ministry, Inc.