Looking Back on 2023 | Global Refuge

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News // Foster Care

Looking Back on 2023

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Global Refuge Staff

December 20, 2023

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re sharing 10 of our favorite photos from this extraordinary year with commentary from our staff, partners, clients, and friends in the work of welcome.

Oleh and His Family 

Photo: Kaylee Greenlee Beal

Jesse K., UHP Service Coordinator at Global Refuge:

“The only thing missing here is his cat. Oleh has been one of my favorite people I met in this job. He has a lot of intelligence that he’s shy about, but given the right opportunities, really shines. His adoptive parents are as loving as any I’ve ever met, and I’m so glad they’ve given him the opportunity to live a good life with them, rather than having to live the horror he did in war-torn Ukraine. It’s heart-touching every time I see this picture of them sitting on their beautiful property, knowing that Oleh can enjoy the peace and quiet of hill country in a beautiful and accepting home. ”

Experience the Story

Hopeful in San Antonio

Photo: Kaylee Greenlee Beal

Rosa M., Case Manager for Asylum Services at Global Refuge:

“This is one of the first families we have seen thrive through our work at the San Antonio Welcome Center. A year ago, this family arrived in San Antonio fleeing Venezuela and had no one to speak with and did not know where to start with [the immigration process]. They also lived in a small shipping container home. Now, this family has two children who have received cochlear implants, two more who have pending cochlear surgeries, and have a new apartment with two rooms, a kitchen, and a car they can call their own. Because we helped connect them to the right organizations and guided them through the asylum application and Employment Authorization, they are now in a safe space and on their way to stabilization.”  

Experience the Story

World Refugee Day 2023 

Photo: Nina Palazzolo

Juliet I., Migrant Children & Families Advocacy Officer at Global Refuge

“Advocacy Day at Global Refuge provides a unique opportunity to connect with our staff and supporters. The energy that comes from uniting with fellow advocates who share a common goal of championing the rights of refugees and asylum seekers is unmatched. One of the most impactful moments for me was listening to Global Refuge staff dedicated to providing quality care and services to our clients. In meetings with congressional offices, they highlighted challenges stemming from failed policies and passionately advocated for improved ones. This experience served as a powerful reminder of the strength inherent in our collective voice.”

Experience the Story

Emillie’s Ordination

Photo: Mike Kane

Emillie Binja, Former LCSNW Client and current Pastor in Oregon: 

It is only by grace that I was able to have my family (both biological and church) witness with me this day. My Spirit was full (just as my smile is) and continues to be full🙏🏿😊 

Experience the Story

The Artist for Life 

Photo: Kaylee Greenlee Beal

Erik H., Client Services Supervisor at Global Refuge:  

“Faced with political oppression due to his mode of expression, [this artist] has found his way to this country, where he can now practice freedom of speech without worrying about who may show up at his house in the middle of the night. He is a true creative, who won’t let anything stop him from spreading joy around his world.”

*Names have been removed for safety concerns

Experience the Story

Ukraine, One Year Later

Photo: Mariah Miranda

Svitlana Dovziy, Bethany Christian Services:  

In the past, [Olesia and her daughter, Kira] experienced shelling and bomb shelters, sleepless nights, and displaced persons camps. Ahead lies a new country, a foreign language, and the challenging work of a single mother, but together they will overcome everything to find happiness!”  

Experience the Story

Fostering Love 

Photo: Julian Spath

Colleen Arruda (Schroth) (she/her), Children and Family Services Ascentria Care Alliance: 

We are so proud to see that Juanita and her foster family are being included in Global Refuge’s Top 10 photos of 2023. Juanita has continued to thrive as she transitioned to college and is finishing up her first ever semester and finals. She is looking forward to coming home for the holidays and visiting Serenity, Vinnie and the whole family.”  

Experience the Story

Growing Change 

Photo: Dan Koeck

Eric Hegg, Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program Coordinator at Global Refuge:

In the thriving rows of our urban garden, Emam, age 11, harvests peppers after patiently waiting weeks for them to ripen. This garden, a sanctuary for families like hers, weaves together diverse cultures through the shared joy of nurturing the earth. From the laughter of children playing tag to the pride in gardeners’ eyes as they gather vegetables typically grown in their homeland, each moment here is a testament to the resilience and richness of our shared human experience. As we experiment with culturally significant crops, we’re not just growing food; we’re nurturing a sense of home for those far from theirs.”  

Experience the Story

Una Nueva Experiencia

Photo: Julian Spath

Staff from Lutheran Services Florida, who resettled a newly arrived family from Venezuela:

When we serve, we not only serve needs, but we do it from the heart! 

Experience the Story

Hope for the Holidays 

Photo: Marlayna Photography

Dan Beirne, Director of Mobilization at Global Refuge:  

This year’s Hope for the Holidays capstone event was a celebration of community. Global Refuge President CEO Krish Omara Vignarajah is seen here with a local Baltimore family, packing clothing for people who are released from immigration detention. With over 100 people in attendance, the participation of local families, churches, and Global Refuge staff brought a strong communal – even familial – tone to the event. This event brought wonderful closure to this year’s Hope for the Holidays program, which brought in more than 20,000 cards from 400 communities across the country. We give thanks for this generosity and celebrate the participation of so many communities. 

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