Greeley Global Refugee Center takes part in meal packaging event | MyWindsorNow.com

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Greeley Global Refugee Center takes part in meal packaging event

— Members from the Global Refugee Center in Greeley put in some elbow grease Saturday to package 46,000 meals in 90 minutes for people in need.

Nearly 300 women and girls from several organizations joined together for the Feeding Children Everywhere event at the Fort Collins LDS Church to pack meals of dried lentils, white rice, dehydrated vegetables, and pink Himalayan salt. Half of the meals packaged at the event will go to the refugee center's English as a Second Language program and clients in need. Feeding Children Everywhere is a national nonprofit organization that helps charities distribute meals locally to curb hunger, according to a news release.

For perspective on the refugee experience, the refugee center's Community Navigator Gediya Ramazani spoke about her transition to the United States as a refugee a decade ago.

Ramazani's parents fled from the Somalian civil war to Kenya where Ramazani was born. In 2006, when she was 10 years old, her family relocated to the United States. The transition was one of struggle for Ramazani. Different food and unfamiliar faces were just some of the changes. Ramazani faced bullying in middle school for being different. Once, someone pulled off her hijab and told her to go back from where she came.

"When I told them I was from Africa they gave me a disgusted look," she said. "But I forgave that and moved on."

She said high school was easier because she was better at speaking English.

Now a student studying social work at Colorado State University, Ramazani works as a community navigator to help refugees assimilate and integrate into a new life. Some of her tasks include helping refugees fill out documents and paper work for green cards and citizenship along with helping them make doctors appointments or explaining rent and lease agreements.

Refugees from the East African community founded the Global Refugee Center in 2008. Their goal is to integrate refugees into their new community.

"It's a two-way process for both refugees and the communities," said Joni Lopez of the GRC.

Lopez cites three things that help integrate refugees: education and Right to Read an ESL program, employment and social bridging.

"We act as an advocate on behalf of the refugees," said Lopez. "The goal is to empower them to become self-sustaining."

After college, Ramazani plans to attend graduate school to pursue social work. She is the first in her family to attend college.

Concluding her speech, Ramazani left attendees with a bit of advice.

"Never give up in hardships because success is just around the corner," she said.