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Each year, thousands of refugees – people forced to flee their homes due to well-founded fear of persecution – are invited to live in the United States. In 2012, there were just under 60,000 people admitted through the U.S. refugee resettlement program, representing countries such as Bhutan, Iraq, Burma, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, and more.

Being resettled in the U.S. presents families with great opportunities – as well as tremendous challenges. Adolescent girls in particular face overwhelming responsibilities and social isolation, and generally receive the fewest resources and least amount of support. In addition to figuring out how to navigate a completely unfamiliar environment – a new country, new culture, and American high school – girls must act as caregivers and translators. They do all of this while living in poverty and struggling to learn English and succeed in school.

GirlForward empowers refugee girls because through girls, we can strengthen entire communities. While GirlForward girls come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, our programs are designed to meet each girl’s unique needs. GirlForward serves refugee girls ages 12-21 who have been resettled in Chicago from war-torn countries around the world, and who are now building new lives for themselves and their families in the United States.

For more information about refugee resettlement, we recommend Refugee 101 from BRYCS.