This is the second of a two-part blog. The first post, "In Search of Refuge: Tapping In to People's Potential" can be found HERE.
Beyond the need for a safe place to live, they are seeking refuge for their body, mind, and spirit.
It calls for innovative ideas to develop inclusive spaces where relationships can be built, spiritual and mental health needs can be addressed, and the existence of a person isn’t judged. People must be able to holistically engage their own creativity, and have opportunities to work and be productive. As one of my mentors told me this summer “creativity is the antithesis of helplessness.” Providing integrated safe spaces - spaces where more than just a physical body is being engaged - is the next step in welcoming refugees. These are people who have the potential to contribute to the wealth and well-being of a country, so investing in holistic care now is vital to see these opportunities realized in the future.
I am not claiming to be an expert on this topic, but I am attempting to share the issues that I have encountered in my work so far. There is no cookie-cutter solution, that much is clear. However, my hope is that this #refugeeswelcome movement recognizes that these people are more than just victims of war, but that they have incredible potential of positively influencing their communities. Research even suggests that large groups of refugees can spur economic growth. Therefore, I believe in supporting refugee-based creativity and entrepreneurship through innovative organizations like Tirzah International, in their work empowering women through partnership with locals who aid refugees and support them holistically.
One of member of the Tirzah network in the Eastern European region writes that “Now, we have to use this opportunity, when so many people are coming to us, to show them love, kindness, and hope in Christ." This is truly a historic time in our world, and churches, nonprofits, community organizations, and schools have the amazing privilege of leading the way in the process of providing true refuge.
The views expressed in this piece are not representative of any organizations or institutions the author is affiliated with, but are strictly his own
Michael Zuch is an Austrian-American college student in Nashville, TN studying Health & Human Services and Music. He is fascinated by the intersection of trauma, mental health, and the arts, which he plans on studying in graduate school. When not working and learning, Michael can be found swooning over soulful singer-songwriters, eating “too many” cookies, and Skyping with his nieces and nephews.