Welcome to Southern California! As immigrants to this country, we understand the challenges and struggles you may go through in order to integrate and to make Southern California your home.
The Refugees Welcome Guidebook has been written with empathy and care to your current situation. For almost two years, we have collaborated with volunteers across Southern California, refugee resource centers, resettlement agencies and service providers to learn and understand the current challenges that refugees and asylees face today.
Each section (Basic Services, Resilient Communities, and Eat Shop Play) provides important information, critical resources, and links to direct access for support. The sections are presented with a brief introduction to the topic in both Arabic and English and links to resources below it.
The Basic Services section covers immediate needs and services that refugees must do within the first thirty days. After consultations and advice from refugees and resettlement agencies, we have collected and prioritized key information that refugees need for initial resettlement such as immigration paperwork, health screenings, school enrollment for children, housing, and financial support. We know that every case is unique with its own challenges and opportunities, this resource does not replace counsel from the refugee resettlement case manager or the legal counsel. It serves as a supplement to their effort rather than a substitute. For specific questions and advice about your case, please contact your refugee resettlement case manager.
The Resilience Communities section introduces refugees and new immigrants to the American culture and the pitfalls of integration such as culture shock, changing roles within the family, and negative consequences of unhealthy coping mechanisms or mental health issues. The section also includes ways of connecting with people through congregations, business, higher education, and lifting up your civic voice. Immigrating to a new place is never easy, but with support and awareness of families can be resilient and strong even through the most difficult times.
Immigrants coming to Southern California have the rare privilege of living in a metropolitan area that celebrates diversity and culture. One can find food, music, and activities from almost any culture. The Eat Shop Play section of the guidebook specifically highlights restaurants, markets and shopping for those from Middle Eastern. However getting around Southern California can be daunting or stressful especially if someone doesn’t own a car or know the geography. This section also provides links to public transit, maps, and key tips and strategies to get around safely and affordably.
In addition, the section also includes affordable shopping for the home. Families and individuals like most refugees and asylum seekers are on a very tight budget, the Eat Shop Play provides information and activities that are free or low cost such as parks, hiking, and community festivals and events. A critical part of healthy cultural integration is engaging with your community and benefiting from the positive, which is offered in this section.
This printed version, is also available as an app and on our website www.refugeeswelcomeguide.org.