Summit Helps Refugee Families Live Healthy Lives

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ANKENY, Iowa  --  Since the 1970s, Iowa has welcomed 30,000 refugees to the state. The Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa is a volunteer network of organizations that works to empower the local refugee community.

At its annual summit event on Thursday, the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa is focusing on ways the community, from schools to health care providers, can aid refugees in growing healthy families.

When a family seeks refuge in Iowa there are a lot of things that are different, from cultural aspects of parenting to laws and customs. Getting used to everything can cause a lot of stress, not to mention the emotional support refugees may need after seeking refuge from their home country.

“Families come from all around the world, they come to the US through the refugee program because they’ve fled some sort of persecution in their home countries and so they have very traumatic past often and so there is a variety of mental health and trauma needs that families have,” Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa Chairman Nick Wuertz.

Wuertz said he needs citizens' help now more than ever, the Trump Administration has dropped the refugee admissions ceiling to one of the lowest in history, during a time when the world is seeing more refugees than ever before, according to Wuertz.

“Iowa has been a state that has welcomed refugees for many decades going back to Governor Ray, so we are obviously very disappointed. I know one of our service providers has people coming in each day asking when their family members are going to be able to join them and unfortunately there aren’t a lot of easy answers as the administration continues to shrink the program,” Wuertz said.

Wuertz is urging those who don’t have time to help and volunteer with the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa to call federal elected officials on the matter.

The Refugee Summit starts Thursday at 8 a.m. at the DMACC campus in Ankeny. The keynote speaker will focus on creating environments that are conducive to well-being, as well as teaching strength-based approaches to working with refugees.

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