Afghan refugees get Memphis-style hospitality from World Relief Memphis

“Imagine if you just had your life just snatched from you."

"If you were brought out of one element, dropped into another new element,” said Clarence Williams, Employment Manager for World Relief Memphis.

Refugees from the war in Afghanistan face monumental challenges as they try to rebuild their lives. World Relief Memphis is doing its part to help by helping displaced Afghans find housing, employment, and education.

“Some Afghans really helped the United States with interpretation and intel gathering during the war,” Williams said. “So when Kabul fell, the United States government stepped up to help with the humanitarian effort—arranging for visas and relocating families.”

The process starts with an intense amount of vetting, including many layers of security and in-depth background checks. Then, the organization helps individuals and families begin to rebuild their lives here.

“We have a welcoming department that takes care of them along with my team,” said Williams. We work to make sure that they have an apartment, furniture, groceries, and all of the basic things that they need to get started.”

World Relief also helps refugees with arranging medical care, school registration for their children, and setting up bank accounts—all part of establishing a foundation before placing them with an employer.

Williams and his team work with local businesses to find jobs for refugees, many of whom have limited skills. Memphis companies like Hollywood Feed are doing their part too.

“Hollywood Feed is likely one of our best; they have really stepped up to the plate,” Williams said. “After touring their plant, we realized that there were numerous positions that our refugees could fill. And it has just worked out well. We were able to place four Afghan refugees at the Hollywood Feed warehouse.”

World Relief Memphis has placed numerous people—refugees from Afghanistan and from other countries as well—in employment positions across the city

World Relief is a global, Christian, humanitarian organization that has been helping victims of violence, oppression, and natural disasters for over 40 years. The Memphis office opened in 2012 and has been helping refugees ever since.

Williams says that World Relief’s work matches the hospitable spirit of the Bluff City.

“I think that this is a great opportunity for Memphians to demonstrate how they would like to be treated if the shoe were on the other foot,” he said.

“This is our opportunity to show the world how we take care of people.”
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Read more articles by Chris Jones.

Chris Jones is an attorney, community and non-profit strategist, and freelance writer.  Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, Chris has lived in Memphis for over 25 years.  In his spare time, he loves traveling, learning about history and society, and playing the guitar.