Local group 'builds hope,' provides help to refugees in NE Ohio

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - There are thousands of refugees in northeast Ohio, and a local organization seeks to help make adjusting to a new life easier.

Building Hope in the City focuses on educating and helping refugees and immigrants find a community in Cleveland. Eileen Wilson is the Director of Refugee Ministries.

"The center itself has only been open about two years and came out of the idea when we saw there was gap between when people were supposed to be self-sufficient and when they were able to launch into society," she said.

Wilson says about 175 people come to take classes each day. There are courses that teach cooking, job skills courses, citizenship, and others.

"There are about 8,000 to 10,000 refugees in the northeast Ohio area -- if you include Akron, it's larger," said Wilson.

Eman Awyed said it was difficult to leave her home of Iraq after conflict forced her to flee.

"Sad because I lived there for a very a long time. Very hard. My daughters married in Iraq, my granddaughter, my grand boy all in Iraq," said Awyed.

Awyed said one of the best benefits of the center is building relationships with other people.

"I like the hope center because I find more friends," said Awyed.

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