Story by Daniel Kim, International Services and SAF Associate, Grand Rapids, Michigan
On Tuesday, May 15, the American Red Cross Michigan Region heated up over aspirations of contributing to global justice and human dignity through the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program, a service of the Red Cross that helps reconnect families separated internationally by conflict, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies. More than 55 volunteers and staff came to Grand Rapids from every corner of Michigan to become a Restoring Family Links Caseworker. Mary VanderGoot, Restoring Family Links Mentor, and I were instructors for the training. The seven hour training included group projects, simulations, and role plays to help Red Crossers understand the importance of our reconnecting families services, and how to deliver this humanitarian assistance to their communities.
It was very exciting to meet the future RFL caseworkers who will end up providing this service across Michigan. The state resettles the fourth largest number of refugees in the US each year, a population often in need of reconnecting families services. While teaching, I dreamed of our region reconnecting all the families in need of our humanitarian assistance - ending the human suffering caused by not knowing the fate or whereabouts of loved ones. Throughout the training, I was excited to see the participants' passion and eagerness to help their communities.
By taking the Restoring Family Links Casework training, the participants will be able to identify new ways of supporting their local refugee communities. Conducting outreach will be crucial for them to build relationship with refugees and service provider agencies, and to grow and develop the Restoring Family Links program.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach the Restoring Family Links Casework Training and thankful to my co-instructor, Mary VanderGoot for her support and knowledge of this service. It was an amazing opportunity to reenergize my passion and love for International Services and the Restoring Family Links program. I look forward to all the amazing reconnecting families work the training participants will do back home. Go Restoring Family Links!