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International Rescue Committee: Helping refugees help themselves

In 1933, Albert Einstein in started an organization to aid individuals who suffered persecution under Nazi Germany. At the time, it was called the International Relief Association. In 1940, an organization called the Emergency Rescue Committee formed to help Europeans trapped in Vichy, France. These two organizations merged in 1942 to form International Relief and Rescue Committee, which later was shortened to International Rescue Committee. Over the years, IRC has intervened to help victims during the Vietnam War, Sudan crisis, and many other crises.

The IRC has a branch in Atlanta, GA that engages in programs to help refugees resettled to the Atlanta area adjust to life in the US. These programs include case management, English classes, job skills training, math, and computer literacy.

The IRC makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:

* a furnished home
* help with rent
* health care
* nutritious, affordable food
* English language classes
* help building job, computer & financial literacy skills
* education for their children
* social services & community support
* legal services toward residency & citizenship

The IRC Atlanta has a computer lab equipped with several software programs to assist refugees to acquires skills such as typing, learning English, how to use e-mail, and many other tasks. Below is at list of some of the software programs and educational websites available at the Atlanta chapter of IRC:

* GED Math from mathtv.com-> help learn to develop math skills to pass the GED
* Rosetta Stone->a program for learning different languages, which IRC refugees use to learn English
* DMV website for driving practice
* Rapid Typing and Tux Typing->tutorials that gradually teach people how to type by repeatedly typing the letter that the software asks for
* Cyber Start->learn to use mouse through visual rather than text-based tutorial

The IRC Atlanta has a "Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher" license. This means that it gets a discounted rate on installing Windows on the their PCs. Microsoft charges the IRC $10 for each computer's Windows installation ($5 for each Windows XP CD and $5 for Microsoft Office). The computer must have had Windows XP installed in it before. Private individuals and businesses donate the PCs. To reclaim costs of the Windows installation, IRC sells the computers to the refugees for $10 per PC. This helps the IRC sustain this program, but it also provides the computers for an affordable price.

In addition to teaching adults how to adjust to a working life, the IRC also havs youth programs and classes for teenagers and younger ages. The IRC has staff, interns, and volunteers that help with teaching English and other skills.

The IRC's programs are augmented through donations of goods that benefit refugee families. In addition to financial contributions, the IRC collects items that newly arrived refugees need to get a new start. They collect computers, furniture, and many other items. Right now, they need winter clothing the most. Such items include:

* blankets
* socks
* coats
* sweaters
* hats

Although the IRC benefits from donations of money and items, it also needs volunteers. Below are types of volunteers needed most:

* childcare for "First Things First,” a women's literacy class that often has widows and other single mothers
* computer literacy volunteers
* tax preparation->unnecessary to be CPA, but need IRS certification, and IRC will help volunteers obtain the certification
* English tutors

In addition to staff and volunteers, the IRC also relies on interns to help with services. While volunteers work a few hours per week, interns must work a minimum of 15 hours per week and a total of 120 hours. Below are some areas that the IRC's interns help case managers out with.

* Resettlement & immigration issues
* Filing forms and other paperwork
* Helping refugees w/ marta cards

Subjects that the IRC's interns study include public health (e.g. health care specialists), international studies/relations, international law, political science, and social work. People who are interested in volunteering, becoming an intern, or making a donation can contact

Amber Mull | Volunteer Coordinator
International Rescue Committee
amber.mull@theirc.org or VolunteerATL@theirc.org
office. 404-292-7731 ext. 26

For people who investigate a charity before donating to it can look at what other people say about the IRC. In addition to a track record of dedicating 90 cents on every dollar it spends to programs that serve refugees, below are some reviews of the IRC from watchdog agencies.

* THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHILANTHROPY "GIVES THE IRC AN A+."
* THE FORBES INVESTMENT GUIDE NAMED THE IRC "ONE OF 10 GOLD STAR CHARITIES."
* BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE NOTES THAT THE "IRC MEETS ALL 20 STANDARDS."
* CHARITY NAVIGATOR GIVES THE IRC A 4 STAR RATING ON A SCALE OF 1-4

You can learn more about the IRC from their website
http://www.theirc.org/us-program/us-atlanta-ga

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