Letter from Founder, Kari Miller
Accomplishments begin as dreams. If you can dream it, you can achieve it
Heba and Omar dreamt of raising their daughters in a safe place. That’s why in the middle of the night in 2012, they bundled up their 10-month-old twins, making the arduous trek from Syria to neighboring Jordan. There they stayed for 11 years, completing the required refugee process with the UNHCR. At last, their dream of being resettled in the United States became a reality in June 2023.
A few weeks ago, we received this referral: “Heba and her family are struggling to afford life in Charlottesville. Please help them with food, clothing, and rent.” We hear stories like this every single day. Because of our limited capacity, wait lists for all our programs and services have been a reality since International Neighbors’ founding. Still, we dream of a day when we can serve all of our neighbors.
Your financial support can be the reason a newcomer moves from surviving to thriving. We know that only when a human being has their basic needs met, do they have the capacity to dream again of what a future could look like for themselves and their families. On the other side of this letter, you’ll read about five such neighbors. We hope they inspire you as they have us.
International Neighbors saw many dreams realized in 2023. We launched a women’s support group forum called STEPS (Support, Trust Empathy, Perseverance, Strength). Sixteen women meet monthly to share their hopes and dreams, and the obstacles they’ve faced along the way. One participant said she felt like the group helped her to move from “suicidal to successful.” Through our “75 to Drive” campaign, we received funding for 50 newcomers to receive professional driving lessons, a license requirement in the state of Virginia. International Neighbors saw dreams of independence, family reunification, citizenship, and even homeownership become a reality in 2023, all because of generous people like you.
Your donation to our Annual Fund makes dreams come true. Thank you for giving.
Negeeta’s dream to welcome her family to the United States
In 2021, IN staff spent weeks preparing, organizing and submitting humanitarian parole petitions for Negeeta’s mother, brother and sister in Afghanistan. IN covered the cost of each petition filed. This summer, Negeeta learned the petitions had been approved! Again, we assisted with appointments at the US Embassy for biometrics and health screenings. Just weeks after her mother and siblings arrived, Negeeta gave birth to a baby boy. Because of the reunification, her family was there to welcome the baby together!
Emily & Najeeba’s dream to feed a neighborhood
When Emily Young, a local family practice physician, decided to become more involved with IN, she was introduced to Najeeba, and the two became fast friends. After learning Najeeba was a skilled caterer, Emily started a weekly dinner service in the Redfields neighborhood, with meals cooked by Najeeba and distributed from Emily’s home. “We plan a weekly menu together and she helps collect orders,” says Najeeba. Most weeks, Najeeba cooks 35 dinners but has cooked up to 80 meals a week! “She’s one of my best friends now, it’s crazy. I feel so honored,” says Emily.
Nafisa’s dream to know her neighbors
When Nafisa, a newcomer from Afghanistan, met her literal neighbor, Ali Johnson, the two hit it off and Ali became Nafisa’s Great Neighbor Guide. What began as Ali taking Nafisa for a series of dental surgeries has evolved into weekly English lessons in Ali’s living room for Nafisa and other refugee women and children living nearby. “My friendship with Nafisa brings a new layer to my life. The gift of knowing her has given me the confidence to reach out to other Afghan women in the community,” says Ali.
Salah’s dream to give back to International Neighbors
When Salah arrived to the United States from Iran, he was alone and deeply depressed. IN helped him secure employment, apply for rental assistance and avoid eviction. He has been matched with a Great Neighbor Guide, holds two jobs, owns a donated car, and is now traveling with an IN outreach manager to offer language translation for other newcomers. “There is always light. I love this country. And I love International Neighbors,” says Salah.
Olga’s dream to be independent
Olga’s family arrived years ago from the Congo when Olga was just an adolescent. Now closer to 20 years old, Olga wanted to become more independent and self-sufficient. In 2023, she was a recipient of professional driving lessons paid for by IN’s 75 to Drive campaign. “I appreciate everything about IN and all their teammates as they provide for the people from different nations,” says Olga.