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Find Answers to Our 14 Most Frequently Asked Questions

1   Who is a refugee?

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines the term refugee this way:

someone who, “. . . owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Ethnic or tribal war and religious violence are the leading reasons people flee their native countries.

Visit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees website.»

2   Who is an immigrant?  

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines the term immigrant this way:

“. . . any person not a citizen of the United States who is residing in the US under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence.”

Other acceptable terms for this status are Permanent Resident Alien (LPR), Resident Alien Permit Holder or Green-Card Holder.

Visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.»

3   Why do refugees resettling or relocating in San Diego County require Nile Sisters Development Initiative help?

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The following are a few of the many reasons we assist refugees:

  • refugees frequently arrive in the US with few or no belongings
  • most refugees lack basic English language skills
  • most refugees lack employment skills that are marketable in the US
  • most refugees lack knowledge of US legal, monetary, social, and transportation systems
  • some families have lost their breadwinners  
  • some refugees have higher education but in a language other than English
  • some refugees experience culture shock due to lack of acculturation services

4   Why do immigrants in San Diego County require Nile Sisters Development Initiative help?

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Though members of this population typically do not leave their homelands under duress, they still face similar assimilation challenges. Often immigrants . . .

  • speak no or little English
  • lack employment skills that are marketable in the US
  • lack knowledge of US legal, monetary, social, and transportation systems
  • are being sponsored by spouses or adult children who, themselves, are not yet self-sufficient

5   What other populations might receive Nile Sisters Development Initiative help?

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We provide services to special low-income residents who fall outside other established social, health, or employment safety nets. This population includes immigrants, asylum seekers, parolees, and refugees who have resided in the US for longer than five years but who have not yet reached full economic self-sufficiency. Our skill-development training and help in navigating the US healthcare system can be both a last resort and a first step toward independence.

6   What is Nile Sisters Development Initiative tax status?  

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Nile Sisters Development Initiative is a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Financial donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

7   Who founded Nile Sisters Development Organization?

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Elizabeth Lou founded Nile Sisters Development Initiative in 2001. Being intimately acquainted with the daunting challenges facing refugees as new entrants to the United States, Elizabeth wanted to provide a broad array of services to help other refugees to acculturate and assimilate new language, customs, and systems that are inherent to the American way of life.

Learn more about the founder of Nile Sisters Development Initiative.»

8   How great is the need for refugee services in San Diego County? 

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San Diego County is the largest site in California for resettling refugees. Many refugees qualify for federal financial and employment-search support, but only during the first eight months of resettlement. Nile Sisters Development Initiative aids newcomers and relocating refugees and immigrants beyond the initial allocation period. Since 2001, Nile Sisters has served thousands of refugees and immigrants. In 2013 alone, we served more than 1,700 refugees and immigrants in San Diego County.

9   From where have refugee families resettled?

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Since 2001, Nile Sisters Development Initiative has helped refugees from 11 African countries, five Asian countries, one North American (Caribbean Sea) country, and one European country.

Learn more about the origins of refugees resettling in San Diego.»

10   Which San Diego communities are most likely to have refugee members? 

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City Heights, downtown San Diego, El Cajon, La Mesa, Logan Heights, National City, North Park and Southeast San Diego have become popular welcoming homes to refugees.

11   What general services does Nile Sisters Initiative offer? 

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We offer the following categories of services:

  1. emergency relief
  2. employment facilitation
  3. family advocacy and education

View the complete menu of Nile Sisters Development Initiative services.»

12   Does Nile Sisters Development Initiative require refugees to pay for services they receive?

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Refugee families receive all services completely free of charge.

13   What sources fund Nile Sisters Development Initiative programs?

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Nile Sisters is funded by public and private entities, including the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and The California Endowment. The ORR awarded Nile Sisters Development Initiative a three-year grant to provide job-readiness training to San Diego resettling refugees. One of the training programs—California certified nurse assistant (CNA) vocational training—proved to be so successful, The California Endowment granted Nile Sisters additional funds to underwrite program expansion. Nile Sisters also receives generous donations from individual community members, families, and local churches.

Learn more about Nile Sisters Development Initiative funding.»

14   What decision-making process does Nile Sisters Development Initiative use?

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The founder | CEO reports as an ex officio member to a volunteer board of directors, and together, they develop and oversee the annual budget and all programs.

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