In the News

3 Phoenix-area faith groups collaborate to welcome 1 Syrian refugee family
AZ Central Sept. 1, 2016

“They worked with Refugee Focus, a division of Lutheran Social Service of the Southwest. The organization has provided resources for foreign refugees in Phoenix and Tempe for more than 30 years.

A caseworker from Refugee Focus was at the airport to welcome the family, along with a translator to speak Arabic.

craig at airport

 


Phoenix-area refugees celebrate their journey to new lives on World Refugee Day
AZ Central June 20, 2016
“Diacre Rusagara’s path to high school graduation was much more lengthy than most.

When he and his family arrived in Arizona as African refugees in August 2014, Rusagara was enrolled in high school as a freshman. He was considered a senior in his native country of Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Read the full article here.


With 5,000 Refugees Expected To Arrive In Arizona This Year, Phoenix Celebrates World Refugee Day

KJZZ June 20, 2016

“In its annual report on forced displacement, the UN says that at the end of 2015, more than 65

million people worldwide were refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced.

These people bring with them an array of different experiences and cultural traditions. To honor these differences, the United Nations has declared today— Monday, June 20— World Refugee Day.

Phoenix marked the occasion on Friday with the Refugee Focus event in Midtown Phoenix. Here, the people gathered have fled their countries because of war, violence, or persecution. Most likely, they will never return home.”

Read the full article


Syrian families find new lives in Tucson
Arizona Daily Star Dec. 5, 2015

“The thunderous sound of jets overhead sends the Alzamel children running for cover under the bed.

To them, daily operations at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base sound like warplanes in Syria.

The family is safe here, but memories of war don’t fade quickly. The Alzamel family fled Daraa, their hometown in Syria, more than three years ago. They traveled on foot to Jordan with three young children. For 10 hours they walked. Nisreen Alzamel was pregnant with her fourth child — a daughter. Islam Alzamel is now 3 years old.”

Read the full article 


Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey comes under fire for call to halt all new refugees.
The Arizona Republic Nov. 16, 2015

“Refugee advocates are criticizing almost two dozen governors, including Arizona’s Doug Ducey,  for attempting to keep refugees out of their states following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris.

Advocates say refugees accepted for resettlement in the U.S. must first pass rigorous background checks. They are concerned politicians are confusing the U.S. resettlement program with the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees streaming uncontrolled into Europe as migrants.”


Fleeing ISIS: Refugees who reach U.S. struggle to reclaim lives
Fox News Oct. 16, 2015

“The growing human wave fleeing Islamic State barbarism in the Middle East and North Africa — carrying with it little more than hope — is stirring heated debate in Europe and the U.S. over the question: Where do they go?

And for the few refugees who’ve arrived on U.S. shores, it’s been a struggle to reclaim shattered lives — as the communities where they’ve settled grapple with providing assistance.”

Read the full report or watch the video below.


Arizona refugees get a hand in trying to establish homegrown businesses
ASU News Sept. 24, 2015

“It might be a delicious bit of fish from Lake Tanganyika, or a colorful, flowing Dashiki shirt.

Somali American United Council President Mohamed Ali Abukar speaks with community partners during the Social Entrepreneurship Expo as a part of the Social Entrepreneurship Integration Project at the Refugee Focus building in central Phoenix Tuesday afternoon September 22nd 2015. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News

Somali American United Council President Mohamed Ali Abukar speaks with community partners during the Social Entrepreneurship Expo as a part of the Social Entrepreneurship Integration Project at the Refugee Focus building in central Phoenix Tuesday afternoon September 22nd 2015. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU News

For people who have been uprooted from their homelands, tiny familiarities like these can be powerful ties to a culture they’re working to sustain.

And that’s why a group of refugees in Arizona is trying to turn food, clothing and other native touchstones into businesses that will help them thrive here.”

Read the full article

 

 


 

 

Refugees find solace in new Tucson center
Arizona Daily Wildcat Sept. 15, 2015

“With the backdrop of the greatest global refugee crisis in over 70 years, projects like the Collaborative Engagement to Nurture Talent and Educate Responsively represent increased efforts by western nations to help resettle families fleeing from their native countries.

Michael Uebele, a volunteer at CENTER, teaches a student on Monday, Sept.14. Uebele is a math and pre-computer science sophomore at the UA. Photo: Zi Yang Lai/The Daily Wildcat

Michael Uebele, a volunteer at CENTER, teaches a student on Monday, Sept.14. Uebele is a math and pre-computer science sophomore at the UA. Photo: Zi Yang Lai/The Daily Wildcat

On Aug. 31, the storefront at 55 N. Sixth Ave. in downtown Tucson became the location of the opening for CENTER.

CENTER stems from a larger Arizona resettlement agency called Refugee Focus, whose efforts to effectively integrate refugee families in Tucson goes back to 2003. Rather than focusing on the entire family, CENTER’s primary goal is educating and tutoring children with refugee parents.”

Read the full article


 

Local agencies receiving Syrian refugees
Arizona Daily Star Sept. 5, 2015

“Only in the last year has the resettlement agency Refugee Focus needed to find homes for Syrian refugees in Tucson.

That’s because the process to get to the United States from a refugee camp in Turkey or Jordan is a lengthy one, said Craig Thoresen, the Phoenix-based division director for Refugee Focus, a resettlement agency with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.”

Read the full article


Upcycling program aids refugee women in downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix July 2, 2015

“In the brightly lit basement of a historic building in the Roosevelt Row Arts District of Downtown Phoenix, Ma Kyi can often be found sewing plastic convention banners into reusable grocery bags and tablet sleeves.

This may seem like an odd enterprise. But the upcycled end product is not only useful and durable but really quite beautiful too — not unlike the story of how Kyi came to make them.”

Read the full article


Local groups aid refugees

Arizona Daily Star June 8, 2015

At any given time, about 50 local volunteers are offering more than just time and experience to the 350 refugees assisted annually by Refugee Focus — they are also providing hope to 15 million registered refugees worldwide.

Read the full article, and listen to an interview with Tucson program director Nicole Trudeau.

Refugee women, children rebuild lives in Arizona

Episcopal News Service March 2, 2015
ens_030215womenrefugees[1]

Congolese refugees Jeanine Balezi, an intensive-case manager for Refugee Focus, left, and Namughisha Nashimwe, pose for a photo in Nashimwe’s apartment in Tucson. Photo: Lynette Wilson/ENS

Peace and security that let them close their eyes and sleep at night; the ability to work and provide for their families: These are the things that female refugees – most of them single mothers – say changed most dramatically in their lives after they were resettled in Tucson.

“I’m really doing much better here. There’s food on the table. The kids are in school. I have clean water, milk and, most of all, peace,” said Murorunkwere Zaburiya, 58. “I can sleep in quiet.”

Read the full article


Bridging the Gap

Flourish Phoenix Sept. 24, 2014

DSC_0136

Photo: Roseann Dennery

“I sat, captivated, at a stoplight off Osborn Road as they crossed the street in front of my car. Flowing fabrics full of life, vibrant and sharp, creating a kaleidoscope of color rich with the brightest of yellows and deepest of reds. I turned down my radio so I could hear their laughter escape from wide smiles of white against coal black skin. Accented by the sound of their worn flip-flops hitting the heated Phoenix asphalt, their movement created an intonation that spoke of purpose, confidence. In all their beauty, they were three young refugee women, including one whose profile was defined by a small, swaddled weight on her back.”

Read the full article 


KOLD News 13 Now logoMigrant children could impact money for refugee groups
Tucson News Now – KOLD News 13
Jun 20, 2014

“We want to make sure all people’s needs are getting met, and there are different ways. I think that raising awareness for what the needs are is going to be essential.” – Nicolle Trudeau, Program Director at Refugee Focus

Watch the full video.


AZ Central logo
Phoenix police, refugees aim to improve communication
The Arizona Republic – 12 News
Jun 27, 2013

Representatives from the four resettlement organizations in Phoenix gave a brief overview of the refugee community and tips on how to help them.Police officers in approaching a refugee should smile and be friendly, said Donna Buckles of Refugee Focus, formerly Lutheran Social Services.

“The issue is they are afraid of people in uniforms because of the horrible circumstances they come from,” Buckles said. […]

Officers also can use the resettlement organizations as a resource as they have staff members who speak different languages and have translators on-call, she said.

Read the full article.