Issue cafes educate about refugees, mental health, and housing

Upcoming Events:

Mental Health Emergency Resources
Tuesday, Nov. 20th at 6:45 pm
Hear from Miles Glasgow of Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare about their emergency response programs to help provide mental health services during high stress situations. Information about Mental Health support and education programs will also be available.

Improving Rental Housing in Omaha
Tuesday, Nov. 27th at 6:45 pm
As Yale Park Apartments illustrated, substandard housing in Omaha is a plague on neighborhoods and families. OTOC leaders will discuss the continued state of substandard rental housing and measures our community can take. Since we are all stakeholders, let’s organize to ensure public health and safety.

Refugee Experience: the resettlement process, different immigration paths, and the refugee culture groups in Omaha

Cold temperatures did not deter forty comunity from showing up at the Urban Abbey  to learn more about the refugee experience from Alana Schriver, OPS Refugee Specialist. Despite the weather, the room was filled with old faces and new.

Ms. Schriver taught her listeners the difference between several terms:


To be designated as a refugee, one must cross a national border to escape from war, violence, or persecution. Persecution is defined as a life or death situation.  Poverty is not a reason to apply for refugee status. Refugees are vetted in their country of residence and then by the country of destination- this takes years.

Asylum seekers –

Individuals seeking asylum from war, violence, or persecution.  Asylum  is not granted to families. Each individual, regardless of age,  must prove that he/she is being targeted. Those seeking asylum are required to accept asylum from the first country that offers it.  For those who reach the U.S., no legal representation is guaranteed to help the seekers through the vetting process.

Asylee – Individuals for whom asylum has been granted.

5.5% of Omaha’s population are refugees from other countries. Omaha has the biggest population of Sudanese outside of Africa.  Lincoln has the biggest population of Yazidis outside of Iraq.  119 languages are spoken in the Omaha Public Schools.

Most Nebraska refugees are from refugee camps.  The average stay in a refugee camp is seventeen years.  Those who are born in the camps know no other way of life.  Coming to a country with different languages, different faces, and different customs is a difficult adjustment.  The newcomers must learn how to access the medical system and  transportation, understand  their responsibilities and rights as tenants and find a job within ninety days.  There are no financial safety nets for refugees who are new to the country.

Ms. Schriver closed her presentation with these action steps:

-the Omaha Community could help its new neighbors by including them in fun activities: games in the park, block parties, outdoor concerts, or maybe a dinner at home.

-Appreciate the diversity and the many contributions refugees are bringing to Omaha.

-If there is something you would like to understand about their culture, it is okay to ask.  It’s not offensive to not know something about another’s culture, but it is offensive to deliberately not learn.

For more information on the refugee experience, go to 

OTOC leaders then presented some information about the migrant caravan heading to the US border to seek asylum. We should extend the welcome we give to refugees to those seeking refuge at our border. To see more information about the immigrant caravan, Immigrant Caravan Action Steps 11.13.2018 (1)

Please consider making calls to our Senators and Congressmen: 

  • We are opposed to the vilification of Central American women and their children who are fleeing violence from countries with the highest murder rate in the world to seek asylum in the U.S.
  • Surely women and children fleeing violence do not pose a threat to a country of over 300 million!
  • Further — the US needs to treat all asylum seekers according to the United Nations Refugee Accord and U.S. law.

Please contact our members of Congress and demand that this practice end NOW. We need to also demand that asylum-seekers have the rights accorded to them by US law (Refugee Act of 1980) and under international agreements (Articles 31 and 33 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees).

  • Representative Don Bacon   202-225-4155 & 402-938-0300
  • Fortenberry 202-225-4806 (some parts of Sarpy County)
  • Fischer  202-224-6551 & 402-441-4600
  • Sasse 202-224-4224 & 402-476-1400

Donations to support Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence

Catholic Relief Services staff are travelling with the Central Americans and providing support and medical care as needed.  Donations can be made to Catholic Relief Services (  Ask that your donation be a directed gift to the people of the Caravan Caritas Latin America.