Monday, January 21, 2008

Spokane is a refuge

William Akon, a refugee from Sudan, sits in his partially-furnished Spokane apartment.

While working at the Spokesman-Review, my favorite stories involved (surprise, surprise) people from distant lands, many of whom had been displaced by conflict or persecuted for their religious or political beliefs. I was drawn to refugees' will to survive and the complexities of building a new life far from home.

World Relief is a refugee resettlement organization here in Spokane that has helped thousands of people from, among other places, Liberia, Cuba, Iraq, Kosovo, Sudan, Burma, Burundi, Russia, Somalia and Ukraine to make Spokane home. I was really happy to donate most of my furniture to this organization. It feels good knowing that my stuff will go directly to someone who needs it.

On Friday, a great guy from World Relief named John and two volunteers (who were refugees from Burma) filled a small U-Haul with dressers, lamps, a desk, chairs and other odds and ends.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from stories I worked on about Spokane's refugee community:

Eliow, a 12-year-old refugee from Sudan, plays hide-and-seek.

The Juviel sisters, refugees from Cuba, listen to their supervisor at the Davenport Hotel before beginning their housekeeping duties.

Nadezhda, Tatiana and Pavel Slisenko pray at Light of the Gospel Slavic Baptist Church. The Slisenkos came to Spokane from Kyrgyzstan.

Liberian refugee Lucky Sawyer, 2, naps while his mother Teta prepares lunch.

Liberian refugee Meme Besseh and her daughters dance in their Spokane living room to African gospel music.

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