Differdange parish offers refugees a helping hand
By Allie Prosinski
Two years ago when Marie-Christine Ries was approached by a young refugee girl begging for her first communion, she knew that was her call to help.
Since then, Ries, a pastoral worker at the Communauté pastorale de Differdange, has set up numerous programs to assist the refugees who have landed in the Fourier de Refuges. “We like to say to everyone that you are welcome,” she said.
And that’s exactly what the parish has done, now hosting nearly 100 refugees from various parts of Europe, most from the Balkans.
Along with housing, they have set up programs to try to make the families more comfortable in their new homes in Differdange. It began with celebrating the holidays together, specifically St. Nicholas Day, when Ries and a few other volunteers brought gifts to those who lived in the refugee center.
Now, in Differdange five volunteers meet with refugees every Friday to learn to make clothing, discuss problems and build friendships in a welcoming environment. Children also benefit from the refugee center, where they can play with others who have experienced similar circumstances.
As the numbers of refugees has increased and more centers have opened, creating a sense of community is more important than ever, Ries said.
Last week, refugee aid organizations officially launched a project, called “Give Me Your Hand,” to train volunteers and encourage parishes and individuals to welcome all refugees.
Programs are designed to help the refugees learn languages, find a home and offer assistance in other ways. Although some of the families are sent back to their home countries, Ries said the positive impact of the programs persists. “What you have done is not lost,” she said.
“I think the friendships we had and what we have done together will help them remember and force them to continue.”
Allie Prosinski from Montgomery New Jersey is a junior studying journalism and economics at Miami University.
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