Oregon group helps refugees assimilate

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For Chhabi Koirala, the decision to come to the United States from Bhutan was easy. The process was not.

“I was in the refugee camp for 20 long years,” he told KOIN 6 News. Once he and his family arrived in Portland in 2008, he said it was tough.

A map of Bhutan from the BBC, Nov. 18, 2015

“It was very challenging. I had a lot of barriers.”

Like most refugees he needed help to fit in here, to feel comfortable. That assimilation to life in America is causing concern for some as groups like ISIS try to recruit in the US.

The large Somali community in Minnesota is often recruited by terrorists. Somali refugees are one of the largest refugee groups in Washington and Oregon, with a total of 749 people arriving last year.

The executive director of Portland’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Lee Cha, said the process to help refugees feel comfortable is layered.

“First we need to really prepare them culturally so they are very comfortable moving into a new neighborhood in a new country,” Cha told KOIN 6 News.

IRCO has more than 100 social service programs touching on everything from parenting to education to banking with help getting job training and a job.

Perhaps most important is the existing refugee community who can help new arrivals from their own home countries.

“Not only are there agencies or governmental institutions that are helping, they also have a very strong, their own community base, organization that really helps us to provide comfort, information at the very grassroots level,” Cha said.

Chhabi Koirala is glad IRCO is around.

“They give a lot of hopes to the refugees.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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