Guest Blog: Refugees in Austin

Posted on March 27th, 2011

Our guest post comes from our friend Scott Heider from the Grove.

Today was eye-opening, humbling and encouraging. The Grove was invited to join a community from north Austin to serve lunch to refugees who have made Austin their home. We met people from Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, India and Nepal.

There was laughter, good conversation and kids running wild. I really loved the instant community that was formed. Even though people were from different countries, spoke different languages, had different faiths, the environment was warm and inviting.

The food started cooking and so did the stories. I heard many tragic stories of loved ones killed, families separated and harsh living environments. At the same time, these stories revealed courage, perseverance, hope and joy. It made me thankful for the freedom that I've always known and grateful that they now can be free.

One guy in particular that I talked with shared how his father and brother were killed and how he fled the country only to be separated from his mother and sister. He has been in the United States for 2 months and is trying to find work to send money back to his family. He was a joy to talk to and was hopeful in finding a job. I left telling Jayme that I wished I owned a large company so I could employ these folks and help them get on their feet. If anyone is reading this and has a company that could afford to hire someone I hope I'm planting a seed. Just employ one, it'll make a huge impact.

I am encouraged that our new friendships will continue. Our new friends have real needs that need to be met.

Here are some things that come to mind...

English: They need people willingly to teach them english so they can get jobs.

Jobs: They need jobs, and I’m not talking about bottom of the barrel jobs. I met intelligent, educated, skilled people who need employers to come alongside them and help them in their transition. I think what they'll find our hardworking and loyal employees.

Transportation: They need help getting places. Over time they can get a license and save up to get a car, but until then they need bus passes.

Gift baskets: Although many of them have some support from the government in this transition, it isn’t much and it doesn’t last for long. It would be great to put together gift cards for food, clothing and all the other necessities. If we could help furnish their apartment that would be awesome (I'm thinking of a pretty BIG basket).

I know there’s more, this is just the start...

Scott, thank you so much for your post and your heart for the city. For those who are interested in serving refugees in Austin contact us at

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