SPOKANE, Wash. – World Relief Spokane welcomed its 10,000th refugee to the Inland Northwest. The organization’s mission is to help refugees begin a new life in the Spokane community. From welcoming them at the airport, to setting them up with permanent employment and housing, World Relief stands with refugees.
People gathered at Life Center Church to celebrate the stories of the refugees who have made Spokane their home. This year World Relief welcomed 418 refugees into the Spokane community.
Mark Finney, World Relief Spokane’s director, shared how Spokane is an extremely welcoming community for refugees. It has been helping refugees from 48 different countries around the world for 25 years. “They are people who are here to work hard, to give their kids a good education, and to live the American Dream,” Finney said.
The process for refugees to gain refugee status in America can take a minimum of two years with several screenings and interviews, “Less than 1% is typically the number of people who could qualify and eventually come to the United States. Those 10,000 that came here are 10,000 lottery winners compared to the 65-million who have been displaced from their countries,” Finney said.
It took Balinda Kizombo, a 21-year-old refugee from the Republic of Congo, eight years to gain refugee status in the United States. “If you have a dream you have to work for it,” Kizombo said. He works as a local welder and is looking forward to furthering his education and gaining citizenship. “It doesn’t matter if you are not American, an immigrant, or a refugee. Opportunities are open,” he shared.