Local Youth Help Prepare Nepali Refugee Community

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Story by Kaitlin Sullivan, Colorado and Wyoming Region, Communication Volunteer

 On the last Saturday of September, seven George Washington High School students led a preparedness event for 15 Nepali refugees who are influential in their communities.

The three George Washington Youth Club leaders, seniors Hannah Walker, Claire Baker and Sadie Van Vranken, reflected on last week’s event with their American Red Cross Youth Programs Manager.

Community leaders were asked to attend the event led by the George Washington Red Cross Youth Club. It is hoped that these respected individuals will disseminate the information throughout the Nepali refugee community. 

The event took place at Hidden Brook apartments in Denver as a collaboration between Hope Communities, Colorado Africa Organization and the George Washington Red Cross Youth Club. Some of the residents at Hidden Brook were evacuated during last month’s flood, many of who do not speak English. Unable to access news in a language they understood, these families and individuals faced unique struggle. Many were left in the dark when seeking information on the national disaster that swept through their new home.

Organizers utilized interpreters at the preparedness event. The crowd, primarily adult refugees, engaged in the presentation and related the information to past experiences. “They talked about a fire in their refugee camp and that really brought our message home for them,” Van Vranken said.

Before beginning their presentation, the student leaders surveyed the room, asking if any of the attendees had participated in a preparedness event before; when one man raised his hand and confirmed that he had attended a Red Cross preparedness event in Nepal, the students said “it really confirmed what we were doing was worthwhile.”

As an official American Red Cross Youth Club, “We’re part of a bigger movement,” Walker said.

The George Washington Red Cross Club was initially formed to fulfill an  International Baccalaureate (IB) Community Action Service project requirement. IB programs work to help students develop a well-rounded skill set that will help them live, learn, work and promote peace in our rapidly globalizing world.

Approximately 20 members strong, the group is always looking for dedicated students to join the club. Prospective upcoming events include preparedness events for Burmese and Ethiopian refugees as well as a blood drive.

Story originally posted on the Colorado and Wyoming Region Blog.