Best Life: Organization helping refugees settle in the U.S.

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 6:41 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, MI. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - After a 20-year war, the U.S. is now out of Afghanistan. As a revitalized Taliban took control of the country, thousands of people who helped the U.S. military or took a stand against the Taliban are on the run. But they are not the only ones looking for help. There are 26 million refugees globally, half of them are children. Eleven thousand men, women and children came to America legally last year to build a new life.

“They’re taking all the main of the family. They are killing them right away,” said Mohmmad Amin Sahel, a refugee from Afghanistan.

Sahel worked alongside U.S. Marines for five years as an interpreter in Afghanistan. When he had the opportunity to escape this, he did.

“The only thing that I could take was my family,” he said.

It’s the kindness of strangers who are helping them now. The family walked into Oasis International in the morning by the afternoon a truck full of furniture arrived. Joanie and Mark Akers started their refugee ministry 15 years ago, after traveling abroad as missionaries.

“I was visiting an Ethiopian family here in St. Louis. I walked in the door, and it was just bare hardwood floor,” Mark explains of the inspiration behind starting the organization.

“Our eyes were just open to what was happening in our own city,” said Joani.

“I told all my friends; you need to give me your stuff,” said Mark.

To date, thousands of refugees from 50 nations have come through the oasis doors.

“Everything is different than our countries,” Hady Matta, a refugee from Egypt and Arabic coordinator explains of his time with Oasis.

“They are like my family,” said Susan Jaff, a Kurdistan refugee.

“Our goal was to help every refugee that came to St. Louis with a whole house full of furniture, their clothes, English classes, citizenship classes, baby showers,” said Mark.

“We just wanted to help,” said Trice Toomey, a volunteer for Oasis.

Joanie and Mark’s mission now is to help these refugees rebuild their lives.

“I remember one mom saying, you know, I just, I don’t want my children to grow up with a war going on all the time,” Joani explains.

Mohammad says, “I can see a bright future from them. And I’m so happy for that.”

In 2019, more than 75% of all refugees came from just five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar. Oasis serves six thousand refugees each year. It takes $40,000 a month to keep serving the refugees, 70% of that comes from individual donations. To find out how you can help, check out their Facebook page at oasis international or their web page at

Contributor(s) to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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