Earlier this summer, former refugees, migrants, and Lutheran pastors convened for the 2015 Migrant and Refugee Leadership Academy: three-days of intensive training, advocacy, and action planning in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Participants came from 33 states representing 22 countries of origin.
This year, the Academy program was expanded to include migrants and begin the process of bridging their respective immigration experiences, finding strength in unity, and building a strong national network of leaders for structured and sustained grassroots engagement.
Training included how to mobilize their communities, leadership skills, story-telling, and legislative advocacy that focused on effectively advocating for pro-migrant and refugee policies.
On the last day, participants traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with their elected officials. In all, 85 visits were held with Senators and Members of Congress, and White House officials. The visits helped participants use their first-hand, personal stories as effective advocacy tools.
Haval Khidher, a former refugee from Iraq currently living in Texas, reflects on his advocacy experience in Washington, D.C. “It was a great experience to meet with my members of Congress to ask for support for people impacted by ISIS. These people don’t have a voice. I am here to raise awareness and provide facts about the situation in my home country.”
The 2015 Academy ended by preparing the participants to take the Academy experience back to their communities and providing an overview of structures and resources available from LIRS to support their grassroots efforts.
Participant Hari Koirala, a former refugee from Bhutan, speaks for the group in expressing his appreciation to you for the opportunity:
“Thank you very much for providing us with such a great opportunity to enhance our leadership skills. It served as a platform for refugee and migrant leaders to raise concerns, issues, and challenges faced by our community members to their respective leaders. As a participant of this Academy, it’s our responsibility to pass on the knowledge we received to the ongoing development of leaders in the communities where we live.”
Thank you for making the Migrant and Refugee Leadership Academy possible! Together we are building a strong national network of leaders who are working within their communities to bring migrant and refugee issues to the forefront.