More than 85 refugees could be resettled in Wausau over the next year.
The Ethiopian Community Development Council recently received approval from the State Department to resettle refugees in the city.
He plans to resettle more than 10 refugees in Wausau over the next three months. Then, the program plans to welcome 75 other people until September 2022.
Refugees could come from all over the world, but Emily Gilkinson, ECDC’s community engagement and communications manager, predicts that many will come from Afghanistan.
“At the moment, we are not specifying it. We just know they will come from different places, ”she explains. “But we will probably have a lot of them from Afghanistan, because it is a large population in the making at the moment.”
With a view to welcoming refugees, ECDC will open a new multicultural community center in Wausau.
He is currently looking to hire a manager for this facility and is trying to raise enough money to hire local staff as well.
Then, says Gilkinson, the ECDC will need the support of the community.
“We have limited government grants that we use for this resettlement program, but it’s not enough to meet all of these people’s needs,” she says. “We love to partner with local businesses, community groups and individuals to raise funds to fill these critical gaps. “
Gilkinson says many members of the Wausau community are already organizing and finding ways to serve the incoming refugees.
A local nonprofit called New Beginnings, for example, invites those interested in learning more about the refugee admissions program to attend a virtual educational event.
The influx of community support is one of the reasons Wausau was chosen as the resettlement site.
At the same time, Wausau’s selection is part of a larger effort to resettle refugees in more rural areas of the country.
“The idea is that as we rebuild the refugee resettlement program, which has been cut in recent years, we want this population to be distributed across the country and integrated into the fabric of all communities, not just concentrated in specific large urban centers. “, says Gilkinson.
The resettlement of refugees in Wausau is just a step towards this vision.