Working Together to Help Refugees

By Service to the Armed Forces and International Services Manager, Kerry Khan


Earlier this year, volunteers from International Services and Youth and Young Adult Services collaborated at the Los Angeles Regional Headquarters to support refugees. In all, 21 high schools and ten Youth Corps from the Los Angeles Region’s Red Cross Clubs participated in the Refugee Wish List Drive. The items collected through the drive included pots and pans, hand and bath towels, utensils, blankets, pillows, dishes, and other household items.  With these donations, we were able to assemble more than 20 “Welcome Baskets” for our volunteers to hand deliverer to refugees from around the world who have recently arrived in the Los Angeles area. Our hope was that these baskets could provide a sense of comfort as well as meet the practical needs of refugees who had fled their home countries and took little or nothing with them.

On May 17, 2017, Americorps member Tamara Alcantara and International Services volunteer Cris Tsai had the opportunity to hand deliver a “Welcome Basket” to Shahih Khanizadeh, a recently arrived refugee from Iran who fledher home country to live with her daughter Raika, in Burbank. Shaih, who only arrived in the United States on April 27, 2017,  was more than grateful for the items that arrived in her “Welcome Basket” and she mentioned to our volunteers how every item will come in very handy— especially the kitchen items, since neither her or her daughter had any of their own. Shaih has no family left in Iran and learned about the services offered by the American Red Cross at a cultural orientation hosted by the International Rescue Committee, where she attended a presentation about Red Cross International Services Restoring Family Links program.


The “Welcome Baskets” put together at the Refugee Wish List Drive will also provide an opportunity to share disaster preparedness and recovery information to refugees throughout the Los Angeles area.

The International Services Team could not be more grateful and appreciative of the youth who contributed their time and efforts to the Refugee Wish List Drive. Shahih’s story is only one example and the efforts of our youth and volunteers are sure to have a direct impact on the lives of many of the newest members in the Los Angeles community.  For this we have only one thing to say: THANK YOU!

Click here to learn more about American Red Cross International Services.

Coping together: Families of missing persons help each other

Families whose loved ones go missing in armed conflict live with grief and pain unlike any other. They face many difficulties in day-to-day life as a result of their loved ones being missing.

Women whose husbands are missing are stigmatized by their community. Children whose fathers are missing are ridiculed by their peers in school. Parents grow old, longing for their missing sons and daughters to return home.

The ICRC started a programme in Sri Lanka to help these families cope emotionally and address the legal, administrative and economic difficulties they face.

Through peer-to-peer support, families of missing persons help each other to overcome their struggles together and find some solace, as they wait for answers.

In Coping Together, four such individuals share their stories.

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A History of Restoring Family Links: Amerasian Tracing

Story by Patricia Hadley, San Francisco, CA

I am new to volunteering with the Restoring Family Links program at the American Red Cross and have been digitizing old paper files from the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990’s. I see many thank you notes, pictures and hand-written messages in hundreds of foreign languages and many different beautiful scripts. I have been so moved by some of the cases and amazed by the global work of the Red Cross network, and wanted to share these stories.

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Red Cross helps reunite two brothers after 30 years

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a conversation with Albert Fulton is worth a million. He has lived a cinematic kind of life—a story so incredible it’s hard to believe it’s true. And yet, Albert is the epitome of humility. His enthusiasm for sharing his life, especially the part about how the Red Cross helped him find his long-lost brother, is contagious.

Albert and Charles Fulton were born in Tennessee and raised in a family of eight children. They shared the same bed as kids, were only a grade apart in school, and did everything together. Everything, that is, except play the piano.

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