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Car Seats for Newly Arrived Refugees

Project Overview

A car seat donation drive for newly arrived refugees through a local church and refugee resettlement agency.

Identifying the Problem

Already confronted with language barriers and culture shock, newly arrived refugees must still struggle to pursue employment, health care services, education opportunities and quality of life activities. During her time working with a refugee resettlement agency in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Allison became all too familiar with the many obstacles faced by refugees. She also noticed that refugees with children faced a unique barrier to accessing these services: unequal access to transportation. Even if a refugee family was donated a car, they were rarely able to afford car seats, which can be quite expensive. This presented the dilemma of either one of the parents (most often the mother) staying home with the children or the children riding in the car illegally. This only compounded the isolation and unequal access to services experienced by newly arrived families. Allison wanted to address this barrier by donating car seats to refugee families with young children.

Creating A Solution

Allison worked with a local church to hold a car seat drive for a local refugee community. She also involved two local refugee organizations, World Relief Minnesota and the Karen Organization of Minnesota. The event raised $3,800, which allowed the church to purchase 80 brand new car seats for the local families of refugees. Once all the car seats had been purchased, Allison worked with the church board and the leaders of the local refugee community to coordinate several buses to bring refugee families to the church for a celebration and to receive their new car seats, which enabled the families to safely transport their children in their new environment.

Lessons Learned

While Allison knew that her local church partners were heavily involved in the local refugee community, she learned that it is much easier to mobilize people around a project with concrete goals rather than a more amorphous concept. Organizing such events also helps to build lasting relationships, and Allison encourages other looking to fundraise for specific items to reach out to potential partners who will continue to be engaged in that line of work for years to come.

Funding

There were no costs associated with this project. Allison relied on her personal connections and resources from partner organizations to spread awareness about the car seat drive and to solicit donations.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Germany Germany 2008

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