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Bristol talk to focus on plight of refugees

BRISTOL — Refugees are ordinary people caught in an extraordinary situation. Learn about the transition faced by refugees who arrive in our state each year to find a safe haven on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol. The presentation, “First Welcome for Refugees: Laying Solid Foundations for Renewed Lives in the U.S.,” is the latest installment of the One World Library Project and is supported in part by the Vermont Humanities Council.
Laurie Stavrand, Community Partnership Coordinator of the USCRI/Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (USCRI/VRRP), will discuss what her organization does to help refugees transition to Vermont, touching on USCRI/VRRP’s work, the challenges and strengths of refugee communities, the rights and responsibilities of refugees who arrive in our state, and the ways in which community members can support USCRI/VRRP’s work.
As a highlight of the evening, Aden Haji, a member of the first Somali Bantu family to resettle in Vermont, will discuss the importance of sharing stories. Haji emphasizes that “storytelling has a huge impact on my journey as a community leader.” The audience will also view videotaped recordings of three former refugees who resettled in Vermont from Somali Bantu, Bhutanese and Bosnian cultures.
USCRI/VRRP is the only refugee resettlement program in Vermont and part of a nationwide network designed to break through social, cultural, and economic barriers so previously interrupted lives can flourish. Stavrand will help attendees understand how refugees can overcome a traumatic past to make a new home in Vermont, where they will work, raise families and make connections. The goal of new arrivals is first to be safe and second to become respected members of the community.
USCRI/VRRP was founded in 1980 to provide a safe place for those fleeing persecution. It offers an opportunity for all Vermonters to respond to the global refugee crisis in concrete ways. In the Yankee tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, Vermonters give refugees a helping hand and the tools they need to develop personal independence and economic self-sufficiency while becoming contributing, able participants in their Vermont communities.
Over the past 30 years, VRRP has developed an effective, efficient resettlement program. This program is the third presentation of several focused on refugees and immigration offered this season by the One World Library Project.
For more information on this event or about One World Library Project, contact the Lawrence Memorial Library at 802-453-2366, OneWorldLibraryProject.org or the One World Library Project Facebook page.
It is open to the public and accessible to those with disabilities.

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