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WATCH: Refugees in Lakewood Need Your Help

The International Services Center provides assistance to about 125 families from counties around the world. An estimated 80 percent of them live in Lakewood. Want to get involved?

When Ahmed Al Ribeawi moved from war-torn Iraq to Lakewood last year his English skills were poor. He couldn’t find a grocery store, let alone understand the streets.

International Services Center resettles about 125 refugee families, like Ahmed’s, each year in Northeast Ohio. As many as 80 percent of those .

The Cleveland-based organization is looking for volunteers to help mentor new families moving into the area.

The organization recently hosted a reunion for the refugees at .

Those interested in volunteering in the mentorship program are encouraged to call ISC volunteer coordinator Joanne Anderson at 216-781-4560.

International Services Center August 14, 2012 at 06:43 PM
At International Services Center we are proud to be a non-profit having served Cleveland's immigrant and Refugee populations since 1916. As a member of the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and a United Way partner agency, we have the privilege of witnessing lives change in dramatic ways. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of war, violence, torture and various forms of persecution. Their journey to America is one of harrowing hardship. Entire lives upended as civil unrest, political turmoil, and ethnic cleansing claim the lives of family, friends and utilmately their homeland. Many refugees spend nearly 20 years warehoused in refugee camps. Tens of millions of these survivors lanquish in refugee camps around the world and less than 1 percent will every make it to a new home country. Over the years, our agency has assisted tens of thousands of refugees to integrate into American life, to rebuild their lives and to achieve sustainable self-reliance. We could not suceed in these efforts without the crucial ongoing support of our donors, local communtiies, partner agencies, advocates and volunteers. Please visit our website www.internationalservicescenter.org to learn more about opportunities to donate, volunteer and serve this vulnerable and disadvantaged population.
Lakewood Realist August 15, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Michael, I refuse to believe that your entire life has been made menial and mundane based solely on what others have done to you. Take responsibility and stop blaming others. I, and others, have come from tragic backgrounds and have crawled and clawed our way out and you can to.
Lakewood Realist August 15, 2012 at 02:48 PM
And you're saying that because you, one person, has had it rough that these refugees don't deserve our help. You'll never appreciate your country until you travel to one like theirs. It's terrible. What we, as Americans, call inhumane they call a regular day. Most Americans wouldn't be able to fathom and stomach what some of these refugees go through. Get over yourself. Chances are the only reason you're even here is because someone allowed your ancestors to come here and helped them.
Michael A. Miller August 15, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Uh-huh... I don't need an interpreter—especially a lame one. I'm not claiming the refugees don't need our help, but they certainly don't belong at the front of the queue, taking priority over native-born, tax-paying Americans. I'm confident beyond reasonable doubt that I've bought myself at least an opinion with tax dollars I've paid into The System for going on 40 years. You know what tax dollars I'm referring to. The very same tax dollars that will be used to prioritize refugees and the services they'll enjoy. So, now that you've overcome your skin-searing, bone-rattling ordeal, O Crucified Martyr, why don't you elaborate on what rock you overturned and crawled out from to save the world and how you've been spoonfeeding the wretched? Choose your words carefully because, although it looks like your superior mind has exploded, there is a word-count limit in these here comment boxes. By the way, Lakewood Realist, are you in need of an administrative assistant or a copy editor? Care to invest in a magazine and micropublishing company startup? Maybe when you get the refugees on their feet, one of them can hire me or invest in my enterprise. You'll be sure hook me up, won't you?
Michael A. Miller August 15, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I just reread my comment and there's not a hint of blame. It looks as though like you made a feeble attempt to use my words against me to demonstrate some faux wisdom. Reality check FAIL.. A Realist would publish his or her real name and not hide behind an alias to point a finger and deliver sanctimonious sermons. I'd rather be a loser with fortitude than a craven hypocrite. You seem like a pretty tough cookie who's not afraid to play hardball by calling out a stranger you probably never met (if you do know me, you likely know that you wouldn't DARE say certain things to my face, hence the pseudonym), trying to use my words against me, challenging me to own my drama and rise from its ashes, etc., etc., etc.... Makes me wonder: Are you a Realist only within the confines of Lakewood? Like, when you go into Cleveland or River, or... oh, I don't know... the Parma Heights Value World, do you become less the Realist and a little more whimsical? Just curious.
Sam Bridgeman August 15, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Just a coupe things: first people check out their site www.internationalservicescenter.org and see if it's something you would like to be a part of. Also, does anyone know of a good organization that accepts volunteers to help current Americans back up and running again? Also, Michael have you checked with the dental school in Cleveland in the past they have offered heavily discounted or free care if you put up with their students. And the last thing is Michael you've brought it up multiple times but don't try to market or mention what it is. What is your magazine about and have you thought about trying a few articles (if it works in this venue) for the Patch. Perhaps someone would be interested in it if they saw it. Maybe not or maybe you've tried but if not then why not. Anyway, there's a lot of finger pointing and arguing here but not enough solution making (in general not aimed at anyone specific). This is a good organization (one of only a few that are there for new immigrants and there are plenty of other organizations out there for whatever you may be looking for, be it for help or for volunteer purposes.
Michael A. Miller August 15, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Yes, Sam, with respect the couple of points you're asking about, I did my diligence and options for both the magazine and the dentistry are dead in the water with no job and, therefore, no budget.
Lakewood Drew August 15, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Hey Michael, if you're so miserable here, how about we ship you over to a refugee camp and we can do a trade with someone who would be thrilled to be in your shoes?
Michael A. Miller August 15, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Hey, Semi-Anonymous Drew, that's the dumbest question, rhetorical or otherwise, anyone has presented to me in recent memory. Just for the record, though, I did clean my dinner plate out of respect for that child in China who went to bed hungry last night.
Lakewood Realist August 15, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Honestly, I call myself Lakewood Realist in case someone in our little city decides to hold a grudge and tries to put a gun to my head. Unfortunately, it happens. You blamed your minimum wage bosses, the sliding scale, the people who allegedly won't hire you because of your teeth, the loan officers who won't loan you money, then the immigrants who get help. Feel free to explain each of these points and tell me what I misunderstood. The pit I crawled out of was the one where I grew up with no food most of the time, no utilities most of the time, homeless multiple times, being abused by drug addicted parents, being taken away and then returned to them 3 times. Then moving out at 15, not thinking about protection and having a kid at 18 and another at 20. I rose up through shitty jobs and knockdowns, eating out of dumpsters, sleeping in my car etc and I climbed to the top to be the successful person I am now. I didn't blame others or make excuses, I just did it, and tons of others have as well.
Michael A. Miller August 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Your continuing to misinterpret my words to your convenience, which are as clear as I need them to be to anyone who will read them as I wrote them, doesn't support whatever point you think you're making. For someone who claims to be checking in from the top of the foodchain, you certainly seem to be dwelling on the past. You'll forgive me if I disregard advice from someone who apparently has a history of unsound judgement. If you're so above it all, certainly you must be in a position to hire an unemployed person, or at least sponsor, mentor or house a clutch of refugees—or participate in whatever social experiement we're supposed to be doing to, for or with them. Yet, you haven't written one word about doing any of that. If you're so apprehensive about your behavior that you have to hide behind a fake name "in case someone in our little city decides to hold a grudge and tries to put a gun to [your] head", reform yourself, not anyone else. Do your kids read this? How would they feel about you characterizing them as a couple of mistakes that you had to bounce back from? As for working your way up (wherever that is) from the bottom, bear in mind that if you're a jobseeker and no one hires you and pays you, or if you're a business owner and no one pays for your product/service, you don't get anywhere. So, taking that into consideration along w/the likelihood that, at some point, there was baby-daddy money, I'm not impressed w/your claim that you're a self-made woman.
Lakewood Drew August 15, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Good. Glad you liked it. I hope we never meet. I wouldn't want my children to be influenced by you.
Michael A. Miller August 16, 2012 at 12:40 AM
I meet a lot of people without influencing their children. If you don't want someone influencing your kids, it's up to you to stop it (assuming you're sure they're yours). I'm pretty sure that would qualify as a responsibility.
Nathan August 16, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I love internet banter :)
Nathan August 16, 2012 at 01:14 AM
On a serious note, this is a wonderful organization :)
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Miller Fallacy #1-'Maybe when someone gladly funds their lives with no questions asked...'-This was an easy one to spot. Gladly funding their lives? Refugees get only a small amount of support from the government and/or refugee services agencies. Most are off direct government support within a year of arrival according to the US Department of State. Additionally, refugees do not receive benefits which are not available to most Americans (those paying into SS) and receive no lump sum upon arrival. They are required, in fact, to REPAY the United States for all the money the government spends on their plane tickets to arrive in country. As to your claim that they are funded 'no questions asked'-The 'questioning' begins in earnest abroad, where cases are screened before being approved for necessary resettlement in the United States. This typically takes between 3 and 5 YEARS, and ensures that only cases with NO OTHER OPTION besides resettlement abroad are accepted. I'll agree with the others in recognizing that your personal situation is a disheartening one, but I must highlight what you aren't suffering from. 1) You're not fleeing a war not of your making, 2) Your personal safety is not at risk each day, every day, 3) You're not forced to live outside of your homeland in a squalid refugee camp surrounded by cholera, malnutrition, and violence until a foreign government takes it upon themselves to provide for your resettlement because there are no other options.
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Miller Fallacy #2-Again a pretty easy one to pull from this mess. What exactly do you think separated the United States from the states which typically produce masses of people requiring resettlement? Or to put it another way, why do you think the United States is a net recipient of refugees, rather than a state with refugee populations created here and settled elsewhere? Could it possibly be that here the rule of the gun is not typically the most expedient option? Have you ever actually lived in a state where the rule of law is not present and those with the ammunition set the agenda?
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Miller Fallacy #4-'I don't need an interpreter.' I think you do actually. Is anyone else making sense of the ramblings of our friend Michael (ex: 'O Crucified Martyr', 'are you in need of a copy editor' [employment inquiry following a tirade, of course])? I for one would like an interpreter on this. To help me understand your interesting world view...
Michael A. Miller August 16, 2012 at 08:10 PM
@Carl Holland: Cue the violins and crocodile tears. I'll be losing sleep tonight, as I do every night, but it won't be on the refugees' behalf. Don't hurt your arm patting yourself on the back. Charity still begins at home.
Michael A. Miller August 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
@Carl Holland: Is that mockery? I can physically feel my heart turning to stone as I read your comments. You're doing an outstanding job of bringing your profound empathy befoor the public eye. I'm sure everyone who takes comfort in your rants is positively swooning.
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Miller Fallacy #3-'the...tax dollars that will be used to prioritize refugees and the services they'll enjoy.' Umm-The United States government currently gives less than 1.5% of its budget to the broad category of 'international affairs' from which refugee allocations are pulled from. Meanwhile the UK extends about 4%, Sweden about 8%, and Norway about 10%. It would appear that among other developed countries of the world the United States is barely keeping up. Seems like the United States cares far more about defense spending (15% of the current budget) than funding refugees. N.B. That paltry 1.5% of the budget INCLUDES foreign aid abroad to nations where large refugee populations tend to reside, not just allocations to refugee programs in the US. The USA is now DEAD LAST in the OECD in terms of the percentage of GDP devoted to refugees and foreign aid programs. I guess those CRAZY nations giving more like 10% of their budgets to work to improve the lives of those abroad are just too far gone to save huh...?
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I don't work with refugees or know very many, but at least I can spot a good organization trying to do something decent. I agree charity begins at home, and the REFUGEES LIVE HERE IN CLEVELAND. Dolt!
Ned Meerdink August 16, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I agree completely. They are doing great work. Wish there were more like them.
Michael A. Miller August 16, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Thanks for the Civics lessons, Carl Holland, as boring as they are. I'm sure everyone who cares is very impressed. According to the eight or so comments updates that appeared in my Inbox, you seem to be investing a lot of time and energy into disseminating your little factoids. Yet, here, again, I see no indication that you're out in the field helping anyone else or doing anything except trying to impress and inexplicably change my mind. Shouldn't you be out volunteering, wiping butts or something? As for charity beginning at home because the refugees live in Cleveland, there have always been people here who needed help. It's unnecessary to import the needy, Dolt.
Michael A. Miller August 16, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Thanks for the Civics lessons, Carl Holland, as boring as they are. I'm sure everyone who cares is very impressed. According to the eight or so comments updates that appeared in my Inbox, you seem to be investing a lot of time and energy into disseminating your little factoids. Yet, here, again, I see no indication atht you're out in the field helping anyone else or doing anything except trying to impress. Shouldn't you be out volunteering, wiping butts or something? As for charity beginning at home because the refugees live in Cleveland, there have always been people here who needed help. It's unnecessary to import the needy, Dolt. Aren't there displaced, homeless people in Cleveland, and runaways who had to leave their oppressive homes because they're beaten and verbally abused, and their dads are substance-abusing gun owners? Aren't there children who are so oppressed by bullying that they can hardly drag themselves to school every day and kill themselves because they don't feel safe anywhere? Or has that all been cleared up? What a lot of hypocrites.
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Your main issue seems to be one of PERSPECTIVE. I understand that the school bullying issues we have here in the USA might take priority in your immediate view, but can't we just bring some global perspective to the table? This might seem like more factoids (which I am aware you don't like) but: 1) So child suicide accounts for about 4,400 deaths per year in the USA-for the sake of argument let's assume 100% of those were due to bullying (which isn't the case), as you cited that as a key issue requiring attention. (http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html) 2) At Dollo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, 10 children under the age of 5 die daily due to conditions in the camps, so roughly 365 per year. The population there accounts for only about 20,000 of 11 million refugees worldwide living in camps, so much less than 1% (0.18 % actually). (http://data.unhcr.org/horn-of-africa/region.php?id=7&country=65) 3) So that means that somewhere in the area (using Dollo Ado as the constant) of of 200,750 children under 5 die in refugee camps annually (That's 365:20,000 = 200,750: 11,000,000). And that doesn't even count the deaths associated with camp conditions of the mass of humanity over age 5! 4,400 in the USA due to bullying compared to 200,750 worldwide due to conditions in camps? Is it wrong to consider the 200,750 as equally valuable to the 4,400 and in need of help and (potentially) new countries to live in? --Just factoids from a local lunatic.--
Michael A. Miller August 16, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Okay, Carl Holland. Whatever. What have you done to help them other than regurgitate statistics? Who is safe, secure, fed, clothed, educated and hired because you've done anything other than nerd off on a comment thread?
Carl Holland August 16, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Been working in international development since the early 1980's on lots of issues related to (but not directly connected) with refugees. My wife did much the same, before we relocated to Cleveland in 2004 due her taking a new position. I am retired now but at least I know that I did work to contribute when I could. Now I just take my time to nerd off to whoever will listen. Well played!
Cari Gornik August 16, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I've been sitting back and watching the mess that has come out of this article. Obviously, everyone has their right to a point of view and I want to preface this by saying that I don't think anyone here is wrong or right. Just throwing my thoughts out there... I know and have met a number of refugees. They work to become a vital part of our society taking on jobs in factories, cleaning dishes in restaurants, and cleaning hotel rooms. And anyone who is unemployed is welcome to go to the same staffing agencies that refugees are taken to and get a job. Also, as I see there is an aspiring entrepreneur in the mix, there are a number of organizations in Cleveland who work with entrepreneurs. They can help you with your business plan, connect you with mentors, and even introduce you to investors. If your niche market is dead, then it's time to pivot and find another. And if you google "help for entrepreneurs cleveland" you'll find the help you are looking for.
Jack Adderboilt August 17, 2012 at 01:18 AM
The Goldilocks Game ... World Melting Pots: Too few ... Just right ... Too many ??? Michaels: Too few ... Just right ... Too many ??? Government Safety Nets: Too few ... Just right ... Too many ??? Private Charity Safety Nets: Too few ... Just enough ... Too many ??? Ordinary Human Interest Stories: Too few ... Just right ... Too many ??? Human Interest Stories with a Hook: Too few ... Just right ... Too many ??? Folks Slipping Through the Cracks: Too few ... Just enough ... Too many ??? Dog Stories: Too few ... Just right ... Too many ???

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