America is often called the land of opportunity. Refugees who are resettled here, though, often are just looking for the basics of life.
"Generally, they are looking for safety, to regain control of their lives and to be treated with dignity and respect," said Ann Grove, affiliate director of World Relief in Moline.
World Relief is just one of several international agencies helping in the resettlement of refugees. Since it was established in 1999, more than 525 people have received help through the Moline office.
Ms. Grove said refugees have to be creative just to get out of their countries safely -- sometimes in the midst of civil wars or revolutions.
A key to the resettlement process, she said, is someone to welcome the new residents.
"We want to be one component of a welcoming community that looks beyond the government mandates," said Ms. Grove.
Federal regulations require refugees, within six months of entering the United States, to have worked full time for at least six weeks. They also must reimburse officials any expenses for flying to the United States.
Integration into American society presents its own challenges -- adjusting to a new community, meeting new neighbors, looking for jobs, enrolling children in school and learning to navigate supermarkets and other unfamiliar types of stores.
"The challenges are many, and each individual has his own challenges," said Jack Knepp of Moline, who has helped refugees. "Generally it's easier, if the refugee is initially going through a difficult time, to see people from (his or her) own culture who have made it. This gives them hope."
For refugees, resettlement can be an arduous and lengthy process taking two or more years. They have no choice in where they are being sent, although authorities do try to send refugees to areas where they already have friends and family.
Ms. Grove said the Quad-Cities area, because of the lower cost of living and quality of life, offers advantages to refugees.
"They can get a patch of green (yard), a place to live, kids in school," she said. "It's a good place."
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