National Refugee Support Spotlight 2022 ~ Summary
Over the years, Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSSIO)-USA Centers and Groups have been involved in resettling and supporting refugees from all over the world as they begin new lives in America. A refugee is defined as a person who has been forced to flee their country of origin because of persecution. Millions of refugees are dispersed throughout the world today, and that population has just grown exponentially due to the war in Ukraine. A Refugee Core Group was formed under the auspices of the National Service Wing of the SSSIO-USA in the fall of 2021. In addition, an InSaider Lens episode dedicated to refugees was broadcast in October 2021. More recently, a Refugee Spotlight was held on March 5, 2022, to launch a more coordinated and systematic approach to working with refugees.
The Spotlight drew 135 devotees from all over the USA and beyond. The session included:
- A talk by former refugee from Iraq, Mr. Walid Sharif Al Ani, now living in Denver, CO, who described eloquently and passionately the refugee resettlement experience, providing many examples from his own life. He inspired attendees with his forthright and genuine compassion for refugees trying to adjust to this country.
- A presentation by Deepti Bireddy, from the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Chelmsford, MA, on the inspiring and intensive sponsorship work by a few of the Sai Center members with multiple Afghan families, bringing to life the practicalities and realities of working with refugees.
- A presentation by members of the Refugee Core Group on the three phases of refugee work that the SSSIO is already involved with. They also shared future plans by the Core Group to provide ongoing support through website development, updated and current refugee resources, and ongoing consultation with Centers and Groups seeking to be involved in refugee support work.
- Nine moderated breakout sessions, led by SSSIO members from across the country, who are currently working with refugees. The breakout groups reviewed three case scenarios and provided invaluable feedback and ideas that were reported in a workshop summary at the end of the event.
The SSSIO has a history of providing compassionate and selfless service to refugees and their families in settings all over the world, including providing immediate aid and service to Ukrainians currently fleeing the war in Europe. Sai volunteers fill gaps in service with sustainable and loving projects designed to answer the needs of refugees wherever they are in their journey. The Core Group is interacting with Centers and Groups across the country, with the goal of having at least one refugee project in each region.
The video below enacts each segment of the Refugee Support Spotlight held in March 2022
A series showing the entirety of the Refugee Spotlight in four videos has been posted on the SSSIO-USA website. The Core Group hopes that this series will further the knowledge base and ability to respond to refugee needs. The Core Group will continue to develop resources to share widely. If you wish to contact the Core Group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any and all questions. Sri Sathya Sai Baba exhorts us to seek to help the helpless, no matter their circumstances, and our refugee sisters and brothers await our response.