Michigan readies for Ukraine refugees fleeing war, and the need is great

Mihaela Mitrofan is back from a humanitarian trip to Romania on the border with Ukraine. FOX 2 first spoke to her while she was there in May.

"A lot of despair - a lot of sadness - but also glimmers of hope and resilience," she said.

Now it's World Refugee Awareness Week and Michigan is getting ready to welcome Ukrainians fleeing the ravages of war - something Fatima knows too well.

"Our journey out of Afghanistan was very scary, and we were not sure that we were going to be allowed to leave the country at that time," said Fatima, an Afghan refugee.

But she and her family got out - spending more than six months on military bases overseas and here in the U.S. - before finally finding a home here in Southeast Michigan.

"We have learned to drive - we are using the library and we are learning about how life works in Michigan," Fatima said.

But refugees face barriers many may not realize - many don't speak English - they have no prior address or credit history to help with housing or a bank account - or getting a job.

But Samaritas and other organizations are working to resettle refugees and  help them integrate in to the community. They are asking - during this world refugee awareness week - that we learn more - about how we can help.

"There's a huge level of need - lots of volunteering opportunities for everything from transportation to education with children - cultural orientation," said Scott Preston, Global Detroit.  

They are asking people to consider what these refugees have gone through and give them a new start in southeast Michigan.

"People who have often had to flee with little more than the clothes on their back - leaving behind all possessions, jobs and loved ones," Fatima said.

"They can be women - they can be children - they can be elderly -  have special needs," Mitrofan said. "They are humans who are here in need of protection giving them hope and painting the picture that there is employment - there is safety - there is a good school, good education for their children.

"So it is a second chance at life that we are giving to this wonderful mission."

To learn more go to samaritas.org