Bahai News -- Interfaith Refugee Ministry wins award Run Date: 12/11/2002

Interfaith Refugee Ministry wins award

By Sun Journal Staff

Interfaith Refugee Ministry of New Bern received a $500 award after being named by Episcopal Migration Ministries as one of four outstanding match grant sites in the nation.

Interfaith Refugee Ministry's award was for its Match Grant Program, an alternative to welfare that provides federally funded services to help refugees become self-sufficient through employment within four months of their arrival.

Diocesan Refugee Coordinator Judy Castranova and Case Manager Susan Husson accepted the award at a national conference in Washington, attended by about 80 people from 38 affiliate offices across the country.

Castranova said the money comes at a particularly stressful time. With low refugee arrivals and shrinking federal funds, the ministry is concerned about its future.

In recent years, the U.S. refugee program has been cut severely. A few years ago, 120,000 refugees were entering the country each year. In 2002, however, fewer than 30,000 were allowed in.

"With more than 15 million refugees overseas hoping to find a way to start their lives over in a new country, there is no shortage of people to allow into the program," Castranova said.

"Refugees are people who have been persecuted or endangered because of political or religious beliefs, not because of crimes committed. Many of the refugees we see have been tortured, beaten and imprisoned because they are proponents of democracy."

Interfaith Refugee Ministry is an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina and is affiliated with Episcopal Migration Ministries, New York. With the help of local churches, the ministry has resettled more than 400 refugees in eastern North Carolina since 1993, including Russians, Vietnamese, Bosnians, Burmese, Kosovar Albanians, Iranian Baha'i and Montagnards.

For more information about refugee resettlement, call Judy Castranova at 633-9009.

©Copyright 2002, Sun Journal (New Bern, NC)

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