Jubilee's Refugee Program
Our primary on-site ministry is the Refugee Program, which began in 1980 when the first fourteen Cuban refugees arrived. They have been followed by many more from war-torn countries in Central America, former Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Over 3,000 refugees from more than 30 countries have come to Jubilee, eager for a new beginning but often scarred and exhausted by their ordeals, anxious about how they will survive in this new culture, and frequently unable to speak much, if any, English.
We feel privileged as a Christian community to be able to host people from all over the world and from many religious and ethnic backgrounds. Jubilee becomes a safe place for the refugees where they can study English, get acquainted with their new country, rest, play, regain their health, and begin their new lives in an environment of love and support.
While at Jubilee
We work together with sponsoring agencies in Atlanta to place refugees at Jubilee who will especially benefit from the extra assistance Jubilee provides, such as people who need English, those who are making a large cultural leap, or single mothers with children. We provide a residential program to these newly-arrived refugees, who typically live at Jubilee for about two months. During that time we provide:
- A comfortable house located next to our English school and playground
- Intensive English language classes
- Childcare for small children while parents are in classes
- Assistance in obtaining Social Security cards, initial health screenings, and other medical care as needed
- Transportation and assistance with weekly shopping trips
- Practical, Cultural, and Information Classes, such as: Cooking, Household Care, Banking and Money Management, Working in the U.S., Apartment Living, Legal Rights and Responsibilities
- Field Trips: local zoo, public library
All of these services are joyfully provided to refugees without cost to them, the sponsoring agency, or the U.S. government. We are able to do this because of the generous support of the many "partners" who support our work.
While all of these services are important and necessary, we believe that the greatest gift we give to the refugees is our hospitality. We welcome them to a peaceful place where they can recover from the stresses of war and refugee camps, make friends with North Americans, and feel hope for the human race again. We build strong bonds of love and understanding in both directions. It's a good process, in which we help the "broken victims go free" while they help us to "recover our sight".
For many years we have collaborated with two resettlement agencies in Atlanta: the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services Agency (RRISA). After a two month stay at Jubilee, refugees move on to Atlanta where IRC or RRISA has a furnished apartment waiting and will assist the family in finding work, enrolling in school, and the many other needs that permanent resettlement involves. In recent years many Karen and Karenni have chosen to resettle in and around our small town of Comer. We are so thankful to have long-term relationships with these neighbors. Some of these neighbors are a part of our ESOL classes and help with translation.
From 2008 - present, Jubilee has hosted a steady stream of refugees from Burma (Myanmar); they have been mostly of the Karen ethnic group, with some Karenni, Chin, and Rohingya families.
In the past several years there have been refugees here from several African countries: Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, and Central African Republic.