Empowering Refugee and SIV Neighbors to Survive and Thrive.
International Neighbors was founded in 2015 by Kari Anderson Miller, a local educator for 17 years. During that time, she gained valuable insight into the lives of refugee students and their families, who had been resettled to Charlottesville from 31 countries. Having been a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, Kari could empathize with the challenges of learning to speak, read and write a foreign language while acquiring skills necessary to navigate a new society. While some of the refugee and SIV neighbors were achieving success, many were struggling in their new land—even choosing suicide—or returning to the dangers of their homeland. As the international neighbor population of Charlottesville grew to 6%- and knowledge about their existence remained minimal amongst locals- Ms. Miller launched International Neighbors in an effort to expose the challenges endured by “silent citizens” of our town, as well as to unveil the multitude of ways in which our community is more valuable because of them.
As a 501(c)(3) volunteer organization, we work to equip refugee neighbors with the network and skills needed to move from surviving to thriving In Charlottesville.
Refugees (people who have been forced to leave their country in order to escape war or persecution) and SIVs (special immigrant visa holders, who worked for the United States during the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq) are invited by the U.S. Government to begin new lives in America. Scores of these survivors live in isolation, faced with a multitude of obstacles including:
- Lack of Language
- Culture Shock
- Lack of Transportation
We know that these barriers keep newcomers from living successful and independent lives, and also inhibit one’s ability to share valuable contributions with the community.
International Neighbors, Inc. believes that everyone can thrive if provided with proper skills and networks of support. We strive to foster integration, peace, respect, and love for all cultures and beliefs among the residents in our community.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Founder & CEO
Chairman of the Board
Keven Lindemann, CFA
Ahmed “A.J.” Mikhlif