A Few of Our Favorite Stories from 2018

by Andrew Goodwin, Digital Communications Assistant

As 2018 comes to an end, we decided to take a look back at the last year and find some of our favorite stories from the last twelve months. In a year of difficult news for refugees and immigrants, re-reading these stories reminded us of the wonderful moments we witnessed in 2018. Our hope is that these stories will serve as a reminder of the good work behind us and motivation to stand with refugees in the years to come.

After year of separation, Congolese refugee family reunited in Spokane

“As a small crowd gathered at the Spokane International Airport Friday evening, sisters Florance Mawazo and Mahirwe Solange Kobwa hung near the back, somehow inconspicuous despite the bright batik of their clothing. They bobbed to the rhythm of the nearby Neema Youth Choir, clearly enjoying the moment, but still it was impossible to disguise the current of nervous tension running between them.

But when, at the far end of an airport corridor, a woman in a pink dress and a young man in a grey shirt appeared among a crowd of deplaning passengers, that tension snapped like a thread. Solange Kobwa dashed forward, outrunning the crowd, the cameras and even her own shoes to sweep her long-awaited family members into her arms. Mawazo was close on her heels.”

Read the full story from the Spokesman-Review.

Refugee kids learn to read in, speak English thanks to Spokane volunteers

“Young refugees are learning to read but Spokane volunteers said they are the ones receiving the real gift.

Every Wednesday up to 30 young refugee children sit down with a group of volunteers from First Presbyterian Church and the surrounding community for a summer reading session, thanks to a partnership with World Relief Spokane.

The children come from many different countries and some have had to flee dangerous situations. Now they are safe and their goals are to learn to read and speak English.”

Watch the full story from KREM 2 News.

Refugees Share Inspiring Stories with Governor Inslee

“Shah Perai Mohammad Osman trekked through seven countries over a period of 11 years to find refuge in America with her four boys. Her oldest, Aziz Moltafet, was only 12-years-old when they got to Spokane to escape war in Afghanistan.

"My family wanted to escape all the terrorist organizations, all this war and stuff, so America was the only place we could find that," Moltafet said.

Now, Moltafet is 18-years-old and about to graduate Mead High School with a 4.0 GPA. His three brothers also have a 4.0 GPA. He and his mother proudly shared that with Gov. Inslee during his visit to World Relief.

"These are people who are building our community. Spokane County is a better place because of these refugees," Gov. Inslee said.”

Watch the full story from KXLY 4 News.

Spokane Valley Business Thrives with Refugee Employees

“They came to Spokane fleeing war in Sudan. Now, three refugees are helping a Spokane Valley small business grow and succeed.

Sean McLaughlin started import company Waterglider International about 15 years ago to make a little extra money while he taught. The company imports and distributes various products across the globe. McLaughlin's business has grown to a full time job for him and it's the source of some success for three new Spokane residents from Sudan.

Watch the story from KXLY 4 News.

Marchers brave icy conditions, rally by candlelight for ‘Dreamers’

“About 200 people attended a vigil and march Thursday night for Dreamers and immigrant families that began at First Presbyterian Church. Faith leaders from several Spokane churches and World Relief prayed for congressional action to help Dreamers and their families stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation, then marched to the Monroe Street Bridge, forming a line on the pedestrian walkway and holding prayer candles in the icy dark.

“Touch the heart of our president and also the hearts of the people who fight against our people,” prayed the Rev. Alvaro Gomez, speaking in Spanish.

Marchers came from a variety of churches. Some said they were there because they were immigrants or knew people impacted by DACA. Others said it was just the right thing to do.”

Read the full story from the Spokesman-Review.