2019 A Good Year For Asylum Seekers in Charleston

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In 2019, WVIRM welcomed and assisted 3 asylum seeking families right here in Charleston, WV. Two have stayed here, and with WVIRM’s help the children are enrolled and thriving in school, and the adults are rapidly learning English and adapting to life in our community. All four adults obtained work permits and found jobs, and we at WVIRM heard high praise from their employers. Unfortunately, governmental policies respecting work permits for asylum seekers are currently causing a gap in employment, as one category of work permit has expired for all of them, and they have to wait for work permits in the next category. But WVIRM, thanks to your generosity, is keeping them safe, housed and fed, until they can move again toward independence as soon as the next category of work permits arrive. 


Through the generosity of our donors, and through local grant funding, we have hired an Executive Director, Betty Ann (BA) Miskowiec, director@wvirm.com, and she is greatly expanding WVIRM’s ability to recruit volunteers to help our current families, and to further our efforts to bring more asylum seeking families to our community. We also have not given up hope of someday seeking approval once again from the U.S. State Department to bring refugees for resettlement in our beloved West Virginia.


Through a partnership with the Islamic Association of West Virginia, WVIRM has also funded scholarships for four West Virginia students, with refugee, asylee or Temporary Protected Status, to continue their studies at Marshall University and WVU. We are so proud of these hardworking WV student scholars! We have also funded, through a donation to the Syrian American Medical Society, the living expenses of 8 medical student who have fled Syria and are studying medicine in Turkey. 


WVIRM is also working hard to educate our community members about the migrant crisis. WVIRM participated in Civil Rights Day at the Legislature, and continues to update our representatives in government. We have attended religious and community meetings and events, giving informational talks, and handing out well researched, accurate information on the crisis. 

With ACLU West Virginia, we sponsored the movie “Midnight Traveler” at the Floralee Hark Cohen Underground Cinema. Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili and his family were forced to flee their country when the Taliban put a bounty on his head. This documentary was well-received and provided insight into some of the difficulties our asylees have faced in their journey toward freedom.


It truly does take a village. Please help WVIRM continue to grow, and to provide safety, right here in West Virginia, for asylum seeking families who are so grateful for a chance to live and work among us. WVIRM is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, and your donation can be sent by check to WVIRM P.O. Box 5387, Charleston, WV 25361, or you can donate  online by clicking on the “WVIRM donate button” at http://www.wvdiocese.org/pages/aa-egiving.html the egiving page of our fiscal agent, the WV Episcopal Diocese. Donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. 

Thank you so much for your support of WVIRM. Together we are saving lives and growing our community! Best wishes for the holidays and a safe and Happy New Year!

Movies that Matter

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When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee the country with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing the family’s uncertain journey firsthand, Fazili documents their harrowing trek across numerous borders revealing the danger and uncertainty facing refugees seeking asylum juxtaposed with the unbreakable love shared amongst the family on the run.


One of the pleasures of being associated with West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry, and other Immigrants Rights groups in Charleston, is having the opportunity to present real-life stories to a wide audience, to educate people about issues facing displaced persons and the lengths one will go to gain civil liberties and the safety and well-being of one’s family.

WVIRM and ACLU West Virginia will co-sponsor the documentary Midnight Traveler on Mondays in December at the Floralee Hark Cohen cinema beneath Taylor Books on Capitol Street in Charleston. This presentation is part of the “Mondays that Matter” series of films which highlight social, environmental and justice issues.

On December 9, representatives of both sponsoring organizations will discuss current issues affecting displaced persons, what the Charleston community is doing to improve the ives of immigrants and asylum seekers, and how individuals can become involved.

Watch the trailer here. here

Buy tickets here. heremidnighttraveler

Suit Filed over Trump rule Allowing Local Officials to Reject Immigrants

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HIAS, a Jewish-American nonprofit group, Church World Service and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services filed suit on November 21, 2019 asking a federal district judge in Maryland to block enforcement of an Executive Order issued by U.S. President Donald Trump which gives local officials the right to reject resettlement of refugees in their state or local area. This rule can effectively separate families, adding to the hardships that refugees face in their home countries.

Read more about this lawsuit here.



WVIRM Welcomes Asylum Seeking Families from Africa to West Virginia!

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In December of 2018 WVIRM welcomed two asylum seeking families fleeing persecution in their home countries of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo on the basis of their political opinions and social group membership. Another family, fleeing similar persecution, arrived in January of 2019.

WVIRM has aided these families, consisting of seven adults and seven children since then. One family moved on to be with relatives, but the other two remain. WVIRM’s volunteers have partnered with other charities in Charleston, West Virginia to provide housing, food, gently used clothing, school supplies and English as a Second Language Learning to our asylum seeking families. The children have done very well in school, and the adults are rapidly learning English. The families have participated in community activities and our hope is that they will someday gain asylum status and be on a path to self sufficiency and success in our beautiful country and the great State of West Virginia.

WVIRM launches WVIRM/IAWV Educational Scholarship Program

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In partnership with the Islamic Association of West Virginia, WVIRM is excited to announce the WVIRM/IAWV Educational Scholarship Program. The program will award grants to some of the newest West Virginian refugee, asylums, non-US citizen immigrants and Temporary Protected Status students in our beloved Mountain State. Criteria to be eligible to apply for an award, and information about the application process, as well as forms are available on our new webpage here WVIRM/IAWV EDUCATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

Gearing up for a great WVIRM Summer!

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Please follow us on Facebook and here at our WVIRM website for lots of opportunities this summer! We are planning to participate in Charleston WV’s Artwalk and other summer events so you can learn more about doing our part to aid the rising number of refugees worldwide! In other WVIRM news, we continue to work on our local and overseas refugee scholarship programs – stay in touch to learn more!

Action Alert from WV ACLU – please call today!!

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The WV House Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to consider HB 4555 this afternoon (Feb 14, 2018) This is a particularly ugly bill aimed at demonizing refugees. Call Chairman Jim Butler at 304 340-3199 and tell him to take HB 4555 off the agenda because all kinds are welcome here in WV.

All Kinds Welcome Feb 8 – please stop by!

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Please visit our WVIRM Table at the WV State Capitol this Thursday February 8 for All Kinds Welcome Lobby Day! Stop by to say hello and learn about our recent efforts to help refugees, and what you can do to help. Hope to see you there! IMG_1850

For Immediate Release from the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry:

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August 30, 2017

We are saddened by the State Department’s decision not to resettle refugees in our area next year, but the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry is not closing our doors and we are not giving up. We are already beginning conversations on moving forward in new ways to fulfill our mission of “Striving to improve the lives of refugees.”

We have worked for almost two years to organize a movement dedicated to refugee resettlement, welcome, and promoting interfaith respect, compassion and understanding. Our network of supporters continues to grow, and fills us with confidence that West Virginians realize that supporting refugee resettlement is not only an American tradition; it is the right thing to do.

We stand proudly with them, with our friends throughout our state, and we echo the words of our Executive Director Antigona Mehani: “While we will not be fortunate enough to serve refugees who are seeking shelter and freedom in Charleston, I am committed to stand up and fight for refugees by educating and advocating through proper channels and venues so that we can remove the stigma and fear that our society has shown towards the world’s most vulnerable. So I ask each and every one of you to support its WVIRM’s mission and join us in ‘striving to improve the lives of refugees.’ We remain hopeful. We look forward with courage and strength, focused on our mission of improving the lives of refugees everywhere.”