By David Schwartz and Andrea Veltman
Are you ready for some good news about refugees in the United States? In 2023, over 60,000 were admitted legally. We don't know how many will be admitted in 2024, but it is likely to be in the tens of thousands. All of them will need sponsors. Most refugees are sponsored by groups and many of the groups are church based. David Schwartz and Andrea Veltman, longtime Servas members from Oakland, CA, would like to create another kind of sponsorship group: Servas members. We (David and Andrea) hope to help organize one or more groups; they can be anywhere in the USA.
What does refugee sponsorship mean?It means being a route to safety for people coming from difficult or desperate circumstances. It can be transformative for both the sponsored and the sponsors. Sponsorship can mean contributions of money, time or both. There are many ways to raise funds and there are plenty of ways to help. Refugees need help with a wide range of tasks to settle into a new life in a new place. In other words, whether or not you can contribute dollars, you may be able to make a valuable contribution.
What are we planning now?We are looking for Servas members who would like to begin discussions (via videoconference) of the ins and outs, ups and downs, pros and cons of refugee sponsorship. Once we understand what’s involved, we may move on to forming one or more local groups to begin the process of refugee sponsorship. We are only seeking a discussion group, not a commitment to sponsor or lead a group.
This is what will be discussed.
the requirements of sponsorship
how to raise the funds required to sponsor an individual or family
how to organize a Servas group in your area
how local Servas groups can support one another
other topics that you add to the agenda
What does this have to do with Servas? Any groups formed by this process will not be official Servas bodies. But as Servas members, we know that Servas cares about peace and justice; giving refugees a chance to restart their lives in a safe environment furthers both. Servas is about cross-cultural communication and learning; hosting refugees provides an opportunity for communication and learning in both directions. Servas is about making connections; sponsoring refugees is an opportunity to make connections that might last a lifetime.
How can you join the discussion? To attend Register Here. The discussion group will have its first meeting (virtually) on:
Saturday, Feb 10th, at 9:00 am Pacific 10am MT • 11am CT • 12pm ET
If you would like to be part of this effort but cannot attend the Feb 10th meeting, please send an email to David at email@example.com and he will put you on a list to receive future announcements. (Please write “Refugee Discussion Group” in the subject line.)
How can you learn more? You’ll find a plethora of helpful information about welcoming refugees to the USA at welcome.us and welcomecorps.org. Plan to learn from like-minded fellow Servas members at our meeting on Feb. 10th, as above. Questions, comments, encouragement? Send an email to David Schwartz with “Refugee Discussion Group” in the subject line. Please share any relevant information including your location.