In a world facing ongoing displacement and with an increasing need for refugee resettlement, welcoming refugees into our homes and communities has become very important. Refugees, who have fled their home countries due to war, persecution, conflict, or other forms of violence, often arrive in a new place with little to no belongings, limited knowledge of the local language and culture, and without a support system. To properly prepare for welcoming refugees and hosting them at home, you can take several important actions.
Educate yourself and others
You want to make sure that you make them feel as supported as possible. Inform yourself about their background, their culture, and why they had to flee their home country. Be ready to assist them with the resettlement process. If there are more members in the household, ensure that everyone is aware and educated on the matter, keep in mind you will all be living under the same roof for a few months or maybe longer.
Create a welcoming environment
Keep in mind that they have endured a long and challenging journey since being displaced from their home countries. To facilitate this transition, make sure that they arrive at a place where they feel protected and taken care of. Remember, they carry minimal possessions and they find themselves in an extremely vulnerable state, requiring your support to alleviate their distress and restore a sense of comfort. Keep your space clean and cozy, you don’t need to have a lot of space or big rooms, as long as they feel comfortable and you provide an empathetic atmosphere, that is more than enough.
Provide access to resources
Ensure that the refugees you host have all the necessary resources they need. From basic things such as food, and clothing to information on the resettlement process and integration into the community. Keep in mind that it’s a lot of information to digest all at once, so, as a local, make sure you are by their side during this process which can be very overwhelming.
Offer cultural support
While it’s not necessary to master their language or know everything about their culture, just learning a few helpful phrases and being familiar with some of their traditions will make a big difference. Show them you’re interested in their country and culture, as they surely have strong emotional ties to it. Providing a safe space to talk about their homeland can be very significant to them in a moment like this.
Communicate your expectations clearly
When welcoming refugees, it’s important to keep in mind that you will be receiving people who have been through a very difficult moment in their life, therefore, the atmosphere can become sensitive and delicate at times. For this reason, establishing clear communication with the people who will be staying at your house is crucial. Have a conversation about your expectations and boundaries, and also listen carefully to theirs. This will ensure that both parties have a mutual understanding of what to expect during their stay and avoid potential clashes between both sides.
Be patient and flexible
Patience will be an extremely important element in this process, remember that these individuals are adjusting to a completely new environment and had to involuntarily abandon their home and leave everything they had behind. It will take time for them to adapt and navigate their new surroundings, they may have experienced terrible trauma and need time to heal. If you choose to bring them to your home, make sure you understand that they need time to adjust to their new environment. Take all the necessary measures to help them settle without rushing the process.