The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a video on refugees on Sept. 20.
The video is titled, “Refuge from the Storm.” It encourages people to go out in their communities and help local refugees in need of service. More information is available at IWasAStranger.lds.org.
The Museum of Rexburg has quilts made by local refugees on display until Oct. 10.
The quilts were put together to give Idaho residents a better understanding of who refugees are and what their experiences are.
Idaho has a few groups that work with refugees. Artisans For Hope is a nonprofit organization that gives aid to refugees trying to become integrated into local Idaho life. Locally, Rexburg for Refugees is a small group that gathers donations supplies for refugees.
Artisans For Hope, which is located in Boise, Idaho have their members and volunteers help refugees learn and develop basic English and life skills to work in the community.
Elaine Garris, executive director of Artisans for Hope, said it took about three hours a day for three weeks to make the quilts. She said the process began with the refugees telling their stories to a translator. Next, the stories were written down in English, and volunteers from Artisans For Hope helped the refugees piece together the quilts. Each quilt creates a depiction of what life was like back in their home countries.
“They are a wonderful way for people to read their stories and gain a better understanding of Idaho newcomers and how they got there,” Garris said. “They can also understand how hard and long the process is. The quilts show the resilience of the newcomers’ process to be here. People have given up everything to come to Idaho.”
Emmilie Whitlock, a faculty member of the communication department at BYU-Idaho, said she has worked with refugees on a personal level. Whitlock and her husband, Eric, started a nonprofit organization called, “Rexburg for Refugees” in April.
“There are so many refugees in Twin Falls, Boise and Salt Lake,” Whitlock said. “We wanted to know how we could help in Rexburg.”
Whitlock said refugees are in need of basic, everyday items like hygiene supplies, cleaning supplies and food.
“These people are looking for a place to call home,” Whitlock said. “And they have been displaced completely because of persecution, danger and violence in their own country. Most of them didn’t know they would be in the USA. Trying to make the best of their lives and trying to rebuild, they have been at the mercy of people who donate and the government.”
Whitlock said a few simple ways a person can help refugees are to donate time, and sharing the video released by the LDS church on social media.
“I can’t imagine a life as hard as a refugee,” Whitlock said. “I am so blessed to be able to live where I want to live and go where I want to go and be with my loved ones without fear of danger. I think it is important to love, be kind and compassionate with whatever means you have.”
The story quilts will be on display in Rexburg until Oct. 10 before moving on to the Sun Valley Museum of History in Ketchum, Idaho.
The hours of the Museum of Rexburg are on Mondays 5-7 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-5 p.m., and Wednesdays 9 a.m. to noon.
The quilts are on display in the entrance of the museum and welcome each visitor that enters.