IIB staff and volunteers and those from Parkside Lutheran Church in Buffalo worked together to provide a memorable Thanksgiving feast before the actual holiday. For about 60 New Americans, it was their first traditional Thanksgiving meal!
“Our refugee clients have come to Buffalo after escaping from something— religious, political, ethnic, racial, or gender-based persecution in their native countries. Our immigrant survivor clients lived through domestic violence or human trafficking and escaped terrible conditions to start over with a new life,” said Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo. “We hope this can be a chance for them to reflect on their journey, break bread with a community of new friends coming from similar situations, and look to the opportunity that is before them in America.”
The meal, organized and prepared by church and IIB volunteers, featured all the favorites that make up a traditional American Thanksgiving fare, including turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, corn, and rolls with butter. Rounding out the meal were apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies. Being mindful of the religious/ dietary needs of some of the guests, the stuffing was meatless, and some of the turkey dinners were halal. Halal is the Arabic word that means that meat, poultry, and other foods have been prepared in a way that adheres to Islamic law and is permissible for Muslims to eat.
“Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors, and as people of faith, we are called to love our neighbor,” said Rev. Jeremiah P. Smith, Pastor of Parkside Lutheran Church. “So, when the International Institute of Buffalo approached us about helping to host a Thanksgiving dinner for refugees experiencing their first year in America, we jumped at the opportunity. We are thrilled to share all that we are thankful for across languages and cultures.”
Refugee and survivor guests hailed from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Rwanda, Somalia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, and Ukraine.
If you want to sponsor a refugee or immigrant family for the holidays, click here for more information.
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