Big Hearts in the Big Country: Abilene Volunteers Help Refugees to Become Productive Members of Community

Published 07/24 2014 07:07PM

Updated 05/26 2015 09:28AM

Some are born in Abilene, many choose to live in Abilene, and for some Abilene is the place where dreams come true. That's the case for hundreds of refugees. They're given six months to settle in, find work, and become productive  members of American society. There are also those making sure they succeed.

Three members of the Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene are also volunteers for the International Rescue Committee.

Pat Cranfill is one of the volunteers, "These people have come from refugee camps that were in 17 years in Nepal. They are actually Bhutanese people. They came here through the IRC because they were in a war torn country. They were rescued."

"I was kind of nervous. I didn't know the place and didn't know the language,"says Deo Bhujel, a refugee of Nepal.

The International Rescue Committee provides them with a new opportunity, but it's volunteers like Pat Cranfill, Pricilla Browder, and Carolyn Glosson who guide them towards a brighter future.

Pricilla Browder, another volunteer says, "I know there's a lot in the news about immigrants today. These people are so loving and kind that you can't help but love them and want to help them when you get involved in their lives."

Cranfill adds, "From the basics taking them grocery shopping, which they'd never been in a store like these. Most of them had never ridden in a car."

"I help take them different places and pick them up on Sunday morning and Wednesday night and get them to church and back, says a volunteer, Carolyn Glosson.

These ladies are more than chauffeurs, "They helped us lots. Those ladies. They took us to places, they took us everywhere like. They were really good. They helped us. They bought us stuff. They helped us with school," says Dikchya Biswa, a refugee from Nepal.

They taught them English, put clothes on their backs, and help them to build a life here.

"Abilene is good because if we didn't come here, we wouldn't meet those ladies," says Dikchya Biswa, refugee from Nepal , "

"We're very thankful of them helping us," adds Deo Bhujel.

Biswa says, "We call Pat, Mom, and all of them grandmothers."

"They're our friends. We love to spend time with them," says Cranfill.

Browder adds, "I get emotional when I start talking about them because we just love them. They're like family and they consider us part of their family."

The three women have been volunteering together for five years. During the beginning years, they put in lot of hours. However, they're happy to report most of the refugee families they've worked with are now independent.

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