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Christian nonprofit in Dallas will celebrate Christmas with Afghan refugee families

A woman talks at a podium.
Courtesy
/
Gateway of Grace
Samira Izadi Page hopes to welcome refugees by hosting a Christmas feast where they can feel a sense of community.

A North Texas ministry is hosting a holiday feast this weekend for refugees from Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iran and other Arab-speaking countries.

Gateway of Grace helps refugee families adjust to life in North Texas by providing essential services such as English classes, home furnishings, and help sorting through mail.

Dennis Page, chief operating officer at Gateway of Grace, said the organization takes a holistic approach to meeting the families' needs.

Gateway of Grace Refugee Christmas Party 2
Courtesy
/
Gateway of Grace
Refugees who are new to North Texas get the chance to meet Santa and open Christmas gifts — some for the first time — at the annual Refugee Family Christmas Party hosted by Gateway of Grace.

"We basically help them just find their footing in a new country," Page said.

His wife Samira Izadi Page founded the ministry to empower refugee families of all faiths and give them a sense of community.

This week, more than 200 refugee parents and their children have been invited to the ministry’s 10th annual Christmas party.

As a refugee herself, Izadi Page said she knows how hard the holidays can be for refugee families.

“They can see all the party-goings and gift giving, the celebrations and Christmas songs when they go to Walmart or when they are out working and they don't feel like they are a part of it,” Page said.

Izadi Page said the ministry invites families to bring dishes from their home countries.

“That is so that they also contribute and they know that they are not separate or isolated, but they are part of the community,” she said.

Dennis Page said many of the newly arrived refugee families come from Afghanistan.

“A 3-year-old said that… she likes her country, and she would like to go back to her country, but can't go because the Taliban is there,” he said. “It's just the mere fact that a 3-year-old could share those words kind of gives you a perspective on the level of trauma that that family may be dealing with.”

He said many refugee children have never opened a Christmas gift before. For his wife Izadi, hosting this event is a way of beginning the healing process.

Most importantly, we want them to feel that they belong.
Samira Izadi Page

“Most importantly, we want them to feel that they belong,” she said.

While the ministry has plenty of gifts for families this year, Izadi Page said the greatest need for families is volunteers to teach English for the long-term. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering to Gateway of Grace can go to their website.

Got a tip? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at parauzpena@kera.org

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