The Suburban Washington Resettlement Center has helped more than 5,000 refugees and asylees learn English, find a first job and get settled in the Washington, D.C., area since it started in Silver Spring five years ago.
On March 15, the collection of organizations celebrated with an open house that included paintings, photography and other art from the refugees that showed glimpses of their past and present. Refugees from Ethiopia, Iraq, Cameroon, Bhutan, Eritrea and Sudan talked about fleeing war zones and living in refugee camps. A group of Bhutanese women sold handmade clothing.
“This was the first time we’ve done anything like this,” said Erica Marcus, communications and advocacy director for the nonprofit International Rescue Committee. “The community that we work with really came out.”
About 200 volunteers, former clients, representatives from the U.N. Refugee Agency, and employers came to the event. The International Rescue Committee is one of five organizations that makes up the Resettlement Center.
Marcus said in the last fiscal year, the center helped 800 refugees and asylees enroll their children in school, find ESOL classes and apply for social services.