Freedom House Detroit
Asylum seekers have arrived on this nation’s shores since the Colonial era, seeking protection from persecution, “yearning to breathe free” as we’ve commemorated on the Statue of Liberty.
It’s a cherished point of pride in our nation’s history, and one that is being uniquely adapted by Freedom House Detroit. The only one of its kind in the USA, FHD is special in that it offers comprehensive services to indigent asylum seekers — from legal aid, shelter and food, to services that help them heal from the traumas of persecution, to training that prepares them to be self-sufficient members of the American community — for free.
The money necessary to finance legal aid, shelter and food, medical and mental health care, ESL training, job readiness training, acculturation, offsite transitional housing, and transportation for the asylum seekers is no small amount, and the FHD depends on grants, donors, and volunteers to keep the doors open. As many of the grants are federally funded, the budget of this vital service provider can fluctuate or disappear with each election.
We wanted to help build a connection between the community of asylum seekers that have benefitted from FHD’s services, and the potential donors, volunteers, and voters whose support keeps the doors open and lights on. Luckily most Americans will not know what it means to flee everything you know and love, and have ever known and loved, to stay alive. And most Americans may not consider the challenges of, once arriving in this new and unfamiliar land, moving through the process of asylum and rebuilding a life from scratch.
We aim to help build that connection by sharing the stories of FHD alumni, illuminating the core human values we can all relate to — the reasons why. We may not relate directly to an individual’s experience, but we can often relate to motivations and values.
And, knowing that individuals are happier welcoming in individuals who contribute and are reluctant to welcome individuals who are perceived as taking away resources, we show how these alumns are contributing to their new country in unique ways that express their sincerest gratitude for these core American principles and the people who helped them to live freely.