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Julie and Amani’s Host Home Story

At World Relief, we talk a lot about building welcoming communities. But what does a welcoming community look like in action? 

For thousands of volunteers and churches across the United States, the answer is simple — it’s saying “yes” to using the resources and connections they already have to help refugees and other immigrants rebuild lives in their local communities. 

For Julie in San Diego, California, her “yes” meant opening her home as part of World Relief’s Host Home program, offering newcomer families like Amani’s a safe place to land.

Forced from Home

When Amani’s family fled the war in Syria in 2011, they lost everything — Amani’s cosmetology career, her husband’s photography work, their connections to family and friends and their sense of home. 

The family first sought safety in Egypt, where they were granted refugee status. Due to high numbers of refugees in the country, however, Egypt struggles to provide enough opportunities for families like Amani’s to thrive. So they patiently waited for the opportunity to resettle in another country where they could more permanently rebuild the lives they had lost. 

In 2023, we welcomed nearly 12,000 immigrants seeking safety in the U.S. Will you help us welcome more families like Amani’s?

After nine long years, they received the news they had hoped for — they would be resettled in the U.S.! But when the couple and their two children arrived in 2022, they discovered that this was just the first step towards finding a new place to call home. 

A Host Home for Newcomers

Affordable housing is scarce in California. For refugees with no rental history in the U.S. or who are still in the process of finding work, securing housing can be nearly impossible. Thankfully, Amani and her family didn’t need to navigate these challenges on their own. Although they were resettled by another organization, Amani was able to get additional housing support from World Relief Southern California’s Host Home program.

Julie is a host home for refugees like Amani who need temporary housing.
Julie and Amani have become dear friends.

Enter Julie. Eighteen years earlier, she had also faced challenges finding a home in the costly market. But through a city program offering low mortgages, she was able to buy a condo for herself and her three children. 

Julie always saw her home as a blessing from God — one that she felt called to share after her adult children moved out. 

“I just felt like God was saying, ‘How can you use this extra space?’” Julie said. While her busy work schedule limited her ability to help refugees in her community in other ways, she realized she could bless newcomers by hosting them in her home.

Like Julie, you can act on behalf of your refugee and immigrant neighbors by giving today. Will you say “yes” to helping families rebuild and thrive? Give Today

From Strangers to Friends

World Relief connected Amani and her family with Julie. At first, Amani remembers feeling nervous about living with a stranger. 

“I had a few worries about moving in with someone I had never met before,” she shared, “But I approached it with an open mind, and it turned out to be a positive experience of building new connections.” 

Soon, laughter and the joy of new friendships filled Julie’s empty rooms — and the hospitality flowed in both directions. 

“[Amani’s family was] gracious to me. [She] would fix dinner sometimes and say, ‘please eat with us.’ They were very hospitable themselves, living in my home,” Julie explained.

A New Place to Call Home

Julie’s host home provided a welcoming place to land while Amani’s family continued to search for a space of their own. In June 2022, they found an apartment they could afford… but it wasn’t quite what Amani imagined. 

“It looked rough,” remembers Jane Register, San Diego Program Director at World Relief SoCal. But between Amani and the welcoming community that rallied around her family, the space was transformed.

World Relief, local churches and the local mosque all pitched in to provide furniture and household goods. Amani cleaned and decorated and made the apartment into a beautiful home.

“Even if something’s difficult,” said Jane, “she’s so resilient. Even though things are a challenge… she turns it around and makes it into something positive. She’s just eternally hopeful for what the future holds for her, her husband and kids.” 

Now with a restored sense of belonging and home, Amani’s children are enrolled in school, her husband is working on his English and pursuing a degree in graphic design and Amani is taking steps to get her cosmetology license. We are confident that a bright future lies ahead for them and the community that welcomed them! 

Across the U.S., people just like you are creating safe and welcoming communities where families like Amani’s can rebuild their lives. Learn how you can welcome refugees in your local community at the link below.

Kelly Hill is the Senior Content Writer at World Relief. She previously served as Volunteer Services Manager at World Relief Triad in North Carolina. With a background in International and Intercultural Communication, she is passionate about the power of story to connect people of diverse experiences. 

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