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Refugee services groups want to collaborate more, for the sake of refugee families

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County.

Michigan's refugee community has some basic needs that aren't being met, according to several refugee services organizations.

Arab-American rights and service groups in metro Detroit want to find ways to better coordinate with one another to more adequately serve refugee and immigrant families.

Haifa Fakhouri, president of the Arab American and Chaldean Council, or ACC, wants these groups to fill in the holes when it comes to the services they provide.

“We want the community to collaborate and coordinate activity and to act and deliver services to the refugee community to help them better adjust to America,” Fakhouri said.

“Each organization has strengths and [weaknesses],” Fakhouri added, “so another group here would be able to provide what they can’t for families and vice versa.”

Nida Samona, vice president of the ACC, said it's important to provide the vulnerable refugee community the support it needs.

“All of these refugees have come here as a result of war, they have been driven out of their home and out of their country,” Samona said, “and so now they feel like where do we belong, where do we go from here?”

Carmen Sarafa is with the behavioral health department at the Arab American and Chaldean Council, said many of the refugees she works with have trauma from the wars that forced them to move, but few talk about it.

“Some people don't want to talk about their emotional or their psychological problems when they don't have food, or clothing or housing,” Sarafa said.

Transportation and housing are among the biggest needs for the refugees. But the language barrier is also a challenge for several families.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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