Durham organization helps refugee, immigrant children during pandemic

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DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – World Relief Durham focused on helping refugees settle and adjust to a new life in America.

With the onset of COVID-19, the organization has shifted efforts to help its youngest clients.

“We needed to make sure kids in our Youth Services program weren’t having their education interrupted again. Many of which, in coming to the United States, did have interruptions in their education,” said Rob Callus, program manager of Refugee and Immigrant Youth Services at World Relief Durham.

The organization said language is a challenge for many of the families they work with. Because of this, they have started using a mass text system to translate school updates for families into their primary languages.

Often, refugee or immigrant students don’t have someone at home who can help with classwork, many times because of the language barrier.

World Relief Durham is now providing tutoring virtually. They currently helping dozens of students through Zoom sessions.

Siblings Kamran and Muskan are in the sixth and seventh grade. Originally from Pakistan, their family fled persecution several years ago.

“It was tough,” said Muskan.

The transition took some time.

“It was OK for me because in Pakistan, I went to school and learned stuff. It was a little hard for him because in Pakistan, he didn’t go to school. It was hard for him to understand a lot of stuff so I’m the one who helps my parents,” said Muskan.

Muskan said World Relief Durham has helped with reading, writing, social skills and has helped her make friends.

Kamran’s English has come a long way since he started working with the organization.

“Working with them, it wasn’t like super hard work working like that everyday but they made the learning seem very fun,” said Kamran.

“They keep coming back and they keep asking for more and more time with us so to us, that speaks of a great need for us us. They’re feeling very isolated right now,” said Callus.

Services World Relief Durham will be needed more as students continue with virtual schooling. World Relief Durham said to address the needs of immigrant children, they will increase tutoring efforts.

They are preparing to hold tutoring and reading hours for students twice a week.

“The Durham Public School system is doing everything they can to make sure that sure families are getting all the information they need. We’re just here to fill in the gaps,” said Callus. “Without the structure and support, black and brown kids like our clients are the most likely to drop out of school.”

They have also prepared to hold weekly wellness workshops. The goal is to teach kids and their families how to take care of their bodies and emotions during this stressful time.

To learn more about services available refugees, click here.

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