The Role of World Relief in Combating Human Trafficking

Written by: Mark Kadel, Director of World Relief Spokane

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As World Relief’s slogan is to STAND/FOR THE VULNERABLE, we take seriously the missionary call to stand for issues that are close to God’s heart. Vulnerable victims of human trafficking are some of the most oppressed, ostracized and abused victims on earth. Unfortunately, too many Americans are either unaware of the issues, or perhaps believe human trafficking does not affect them. World Relief recognizes the stigma associated with the idea that modern-day slavery exist in our world in greater numbers than at any other time in human history. We cannot and will not be silent about this issue.

Below are two ways World Relief is addressing this issue and advocating for an end to this inexcusable human rights abuse:
1. Advocacy: By providing education to the community, services providers, and at-risk populations, World Relief increases awareness on the crime of human trafficking. As more people become aware and educated on the issue of human trafficking, more victims have the opportunity to be identified and rescued out of slavery. Some of our local offices present a variety of orientations that give an overview of human trafficking, the growing criminal element in the U.S. Today, how to identify a victim, and what the audience can do to get involved.
2. Case Management Services: World Relief is able to provide quality case management services to rescued foreign-born victims of human trafficking. Working with federal, state and local law enforcement, World Relief case workers aid in providing services to help victims begin restoring their lives. Our intake procedures includes assuring confidentiality, assessment and screening, developing a service plan, coordination with legal services and law enforcement, monitoring, and advocacy for each victim assigned.
Partner with World Relief to Help Victims of Human Trafficking
Through the execution of its mission, to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable, World Relief is well suited to lead a modern abolitionist movement. As we work together as a community to address the evils of this human tragedy happening behind the scenes, World Relief acts as a leading faith-based advocate to raise awareness and provide avenues for engagement.

Please contact us to learn more about our anti-trafficking ministry. We encourage you to visit: http://worldreliefspokane.org/anti-trafficking/ for more information or email Mark, directly at mkadel@wr.org or race2endslavery@wr.org.

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Giving Tuesday! Every gift is matched twice– learn more how

GivingTuesday“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)

#GivingTuesday is in full effect today. Consider #GivingHOPE to those in need of HOPE this Giving Season. Visit, https://worldrelief.org/spokane/donate to join us!  GiveHopeCards2For questions, concerns, or comments please contact Angie Funnell, Ministry Development Specialist, at (509) 321-1879 or afunnell@wr.org.

Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving

givethanksWritten by: Mark Kadel, Director of World Relief Spokane

Thanksgiving time always gives us an opportunity to stop and express our thankfulness for the many blessings in our lives. The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be thankful.”

But do we only show thankfulness when we truly feel thankful? Many times we need to have a bit of a “perspective change” in order to truly express our gratitude for all the many blessings we may not always remember to appreciate in our lives. We choose what perspective to view all the different circumstances in our lives. Whether they are joyous ones or disappointments; we choose how we respond and the attitude we take each and every day. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, we read, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I admit that I have often thought, “Well, this is great advice in theory, but much more difficult in practice. How can we be thankful for the situations in our lives that cause us anguish, discomfort, stress, anger or even heartbreak?” Sometimes, the best answer is to look at our situation through different lenses. For example, in the work we do here at World Relief Spokane, we welcome refugees who have suffered great calamity in their lives each week at our Spokane airport. Although World Relief is not the agency that actually brings refugees in our city, we are the designated national agency to welcome them and assist in their initial resettlement process. Refugees arrive from a wide variety of circumstances and histories. From those who are well educated, perhaps with PhDs in their home countries and speaking four or five languages, to those whose only experience in life is trying to survive and carve out a living in the jungles of SE Asia or the deserts of Africa. Most refugees fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes, but all share one common, overwhelming response to finally arriving in Spokane, WA after an exhausting journey from deplorable conditions in a refugee camp. It is this common response that I choose to remember whenever I feel it is difficult to be thankful for my present situation.

Now, if you have read this far, you may be asking what is this common response I speak of? It is one of true thankfulness. Imagine you have lived under extreme persecution from your government, your neighbors, and maybe even your own relatives and you have to leave your home, your country, your friends, and your belongings in the middle of the night. How would you feel? Where would you go? Many of the estimated 54 million displaced people in the world today actually experience running for their lives to a place of perceived safety. This place of refuge is usually a refugee camp where they wait and wait until some sort of viable solution can be found for them. How long do they wait you may wonder? The average length of time a refugee waits in a refugee camp before a change in the country they fled from allows them to return or a third county like the U.S. grants them asylum to be resettled, is 17 years! Think on that time span for a moment. If our current struggles with daily life lasted 17 years, I imagine we would also know how to be truly thankful to arrive in a place that we can finally call home, find peace, support our families and educate our children. This is what we see and experience on a weekly basis at World Relief.

Once we compare our lives with those who show true thankfulness of just being alive and arriving at a place of safety, it allows us an opportunity for a “perspective change.” This Thanksgiving season, let’s choose to be thankful for the many, many blessings we sometimes take for granted while living in this country and city. And if you ever come across a recently arrived refugee, ask him or her to share with you why they are so thankful to be accepted through the U.S. refugee resettlement program and living in Spokane. It may change your perspective for the better! It may also encourage to follow the biblical principle in Psalms 100:4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

World Relief Spokane is thankful for our faithful supporters– we give thanks for you! We praise God for His faithfulness and provision. This holiday season, let us #StandForTheVulnerable together in joy and hope.

WR Intern Spotlight!

There is a special position here at World Relief Spokane and Megan Coates is front and center. Megan is our Anti-Trafficking intern and she comes all the way from New York. She was a Human Services student at Alfred State College when she was approached by her pastor at her local church in Rochester, NY who told her about this position. The Anti-Trafficking internship is a partnership with the Set Free Movement (the Free Methodist Church’s response to modern-day slavery) and World Relief. Megan

As an Anti-Trafficking intern, she works with three local churches (Opportunity Christian Fellowship, Timberview Christian Fellowship and First Free Methodist) and their freedom teams to help stop trafficking in their specific communities. She also works at the World Relief office with The Coalition to Abolish Human Trafficking in the Inland Northwest.

When asked ‘What’s your favorite part about working here at World Relief?’ Megan said, “My coworkers. They’re so fun to be around. It’s a very relaxed environment where everyone knows their job. It’s calm, but the staff knows what to do and how to do it well, and nothing less is acceptable.”

When asked ‘What’s your favorite part about World Relief as an organization?’ Megan said, “They help people in their most desperate time. Whether it’s a refugee or a trafficking victim, as an organization, they help those people who calling for need.”

When asked ‘What kind of message do you want to put out there, as an anti-trafficking intern?” Megan said,’ trafficking is more prevalent than people realize. It happens in every country, even though these countries have laws against slavery. I enjoy going to high schools, giving presentations and just imparting knowledge to people who didn’t know these facts before they sat down and listened. I was talking to someone who knew it existed, and just didn’t turn her eye to it, and my thought to her was ‘How could you not want to turn your eye towards something like this? Wouldn’t that make you a contributor?’

When asked ‘What do you hope to take away from this internship, and just working at World Relief in general?’ Megan said, “I hope that wherever life leads me, this experience will be a part of whom I am. For example, if I end up working at a grocery store, I can tell my coworkers to buy Fair Trade Chocolate because of the certain benefits it holds to the message I am trying to give. I just hope this will always be a part of how I live and will help me continue to be more aware.”

For more information about our Anti-Trafficking Department or The Coalition to Abolish Human Trafficking in the Inland Northwest please visit:  http://worldreliefspokane.org/anti-trafficking or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coalition-to-Abolish-Human-Trafficking-in-the-Inland-Northwest/240601769307698?fref=ts. 

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or applying for an internship like Megan’s, please connect with our Volunteer and Internship Coordinator, Johnna Nickoloff! you can sign up for an orientation online!

Finding a health plan could invoke an unknowing temptation to break the law

Written by: Jennifer Gruver (Managing Attorney Citizenship and Immigration Legal Service)

Have you heard of toxic health insurance?

Recently one of our refugees came to the office and handed over a piece of white paper folded in half with postage stamped from Seattle. Across the top left corner were green and black letters “washington healthplanfinder.” Most of our clients know they can throw away mail that is not mailed to them by name (junk mail), but since this was addressed to his full name, this client took the communication seriously.

Inside the newsletter-style mailer, in nine different languages and in bold type was the question: “Are you registered to vote? What a nice idea. The state health plan finder making sure the voices of the most vulnerable are counted and heard in our diverse democracy. Nothing inside the literature had anything to do with health.

Here’s the problem. It is unlawful to vote unless you are a United States Citizen. A non-citizen who registers to vote and or votes in a federal or state election will not be eligible to become a citizen. How ironic is that? A noncitizen who is convicted of unlawful voting may be fined, imprisoned up to one year, or both, and subject to being deported from the United States. [1] Furthermore, in order to register to vote, a person must indicate that he or she is a citizen. And this act also constitutes a big “no-no” for refugees and permanent residents.

A noncitizen who is convicted of making a false claim to U.S. citizenship in order to register to vote or vote may be fined, imprisoned up to five years, or both, and subject to removal. [2]

This is no small potatoes. Five years imprisonment! You may wonder why any non-citizen would ever intentionally break voting laws. Is there really a big gold nugget in there somewhere? (Maybe, but voter fraud is another matter.) The truth is, refugees probably wouldn’t even know how to break voter registration laws, except in cases where the state provides the perfect opportunity to do so by mail, without fanfare. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

On the right side of the inside of the mailer are the familiar government-style lines and boxes labelled with such unobtrusive requests as last name, first name, date of birth, address and such. And at the bottom, a place to sign.

If non-native English speakers waited to learn the US legal system before proceeding forward with things like health insurance, nothing would ever get done. Imagine your own self in the middle of Baghdad or Khartoum trying to figure out what those little squiggly Arabic lines moving from left to right mean and how they relate to whether you’ll receive medical care if your moped crashes. Thus, when a health insurance document comes in the mail bearing the familiar markings of health insurance and asks for info that can easily be provided, the average refugee or immigrant of self-sufficiency and good character fills it out and returns it.

Upon completion of the form, the mailer is folded in the opposite direction and the addressee appearing on that side is, “Washington State Elections Division.”

Thus the refugee or permanent resident is registered to vote!

But does this unlawful voter registration really happen and do people who shouldn’t be voting really go through the trouble? The answer is yes. Just this year, one of our clients was denied citizenship because he voted. Nine times. He swore he never registered to vote, never voted, under oath! He signed the voter ballots nine times. I’m sure the first time he registered, at the DMV or through the mail, he figured that workers employed by the government wouldn’t be offering him to do something illegal. You’d think that to be a reasonable assumption.

We will certainly alert the state health plan finder about this particular piece of literature. No doubt they did not intend their well-meaning voting encouragement to be poison to our clients. Still, as we make our officials more aware of this problem, maybe we who interact with and love an immigrant or refugee can share stories and pass on the antidote: Become a United States Citizen first, then get out to vote!

Jennifer

[World Relief Spokane’s Immigration and Legal Services Department offers drop in hours, Monday and Wednesday from 9 am to 4 pm to discuss all legal and Citizenship matters. Call 509.321.0327 for more information].

(1) 18 U.S.C. 611
(2) 18 U.S.C. 1015(f)

Learning the Culutral Rope

This blog post originally appeared on the Spokane County Library District’s website at www.scld.org.

Written by: Gwendolyn Haley, Spokane Library Service Manager

Many years ago, my husband Greg and I lived in China for 18 months. While it was an exciting adventure, at times it was incredibly lonely to be surrounded by a strange (to us) culture, and people speaking a language we didn’t understand. I remember walking through an outdoor food market and feeling a wave of homesickness as I was confronted by unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells at every turn. I started to cry and left without buying anything. Over time we learned to speak the language and navigate the market, and other places. We made friends, and Yangzhou began to feel like home. Even so, always at the back of my mind was the promise that we would be returning to Spokane in a few months.

I think that the experience of being a stranger in a strange land is what led our family to begin volunteering with local refugee organizations. Who is a refugee?  Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their home country and who are unable to return because they are at risk for persecution due to race, nationality, religion or membership in a political social group or political opinion.

Learning the Cultural Ropes by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library District

For a refugee family arriving in Spokane, the first few weeks are a whirlwind. Refugees arrive with limited personal possessions. Their language, skills and backgrounds are widely varied—from zero English and education to highly skilled and fluent in English. World Relief assists with the initial resettlement establishing housing, basic needs, and enrollment in English classes. Volunteers (like those serving on Good Neighbor teams) help by collecting basic household items to help get the family set up in their new home.

Learning the Cultural Ropes by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library District

Learning the Cultural Ropes by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library District

Our Congolese friends arrived last December in the middle of the night. I stayed home to set up beds while Greg and other volunteers met them at the airport with warm winter coats (December in Spokane bears no resemblance to the Congo). The mother and oldest child went directly to the hospital, as the oldest required medical evaluation. The father and son came first to our home, as their new home would not be ready until morning. Since they had been travelling for over 30 hours, we offered them something to eat. The father later told Greg that it felt strange to have a man serve food to him. The little boy sat at our table and watched, wide eyed, as I peeled an orange for him. I’m pretty sure that I was the oddity—not the orange. While we couldn’t say much, we communicated what we could with smiles.

The next day, the family moved into their home, and over the next few weeks we began to get to know them. Greg tried to visit at least once a week, sometimes taking our children with him. Other volunteers from the Good Neighbor team did the same. Having friends visit regularly to answer questions and help navigate things like going to the grocery store, learning to use the bus system, enrolling kids in school, and packing lunches is a huge help. Things that we take for granted everyday are new and can be overwhelming and confusing. We’ve learned where to go if you need to pay your utility bill in person. One couple that volunteered with us is particularly good at making any visit feel like a party. They brought games to play, like Uno, and spent time interacting. Sharing meals together was a simple way to connect, and our Congolese friends liked to have us join them.

Learning the Cultural Ropes by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library District

Spokane welcomes hundreds of refugees each year. World Relief, Global Neighborhood, and Refugee Connections all provide opportunities to get involved. Anyone can find something to offer a refugee family.  Some people really get excited about helping teach English, while some may gravitate toward the more practical side of things, navigating systems and physical needs.

Over the last few years, we have been privileged to make friends with 3 different families. While each came here from a different homeland, we have been able to build bridges between our families and between our cultures. We have watched families improve their language skills, find employment, and navigate Spokane like they’ve been here forever. We have celebrated weddings, births, and children graduating high school. We have stood witness to people rebuilding their lives after leaving everything they knew and loved behind in their former homeland. And we have gained lifelong friends.