Helping Unaccompanied Refugee Youth
A Vision to Help 100,000 Children
Posted by Kaylee K on Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Under: Unaccompanied Refugee Youth
As we prepare for our work in Europe, we’ve become aware of the dire situation faced by refugee youth as nearly 100,000 travel alone to and through Europe. Our hearts are burdened for these children, some as young as 7, who are alone and scared, and often living in over-filled shelters or on the streets where they are targeted for sex trafficking and slave labor. Because of this, over these last many months we have refined our focus to that of helping the church in Europe to help these children.
In sharing this desire with our organization new doors opened that provide a way for us to actively help unaccompanied refugee youth in Europe. These opportunities do not bring us to Italy at this time, which is where we believed we would "land" in Europe. However, we trust God with that vision and His timing. We pray for our ministry friends there and plan to stay in touch as our work develops.
We are excited by the serving opportunities we now enter into:
I (Kaylee) was invited to participate on the Refugee Children and Youth Task Force of the Refugee Highway Partnership. I am collaborating with several organizations to build a network and resources to assist unaccompanied refugee youth as they travel alone across Europe.
We’ve been invited to join the work of our organization’s European Director in Northern France to establish a Day Center for the 100+ unaccompanied refugee youth in Lille, as well as serve with the churches in and around the Calais Refugee Camp (more than 7,000 refugees, including nearly 700 unaccompanied youth, are living in squalid conditions there). This resonates well for John as his heart (and experience) is to come alongside pastors as an encourager and to work with the church in serving the under-served.
We are so grateful for so many people who have and continue to believe in our work and especially to all who have provided contributions, encouragement and prayer. We truly are grateful and humbled by this opportunity to demonstrate
to refugee kids and reassure them of his intentions for hope and a future.
Photo credit: IAFR, 2015
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John and Kaylee Kolditz
Kaylee founded Refugee Connect in 2008. John joined the work in 2011 as we investigated the refugee situation in Europe. But our faith and cross-cultural journeys have been a work-in-progress for many years. Much of this blog reflects that. ************************************************ We met in Austin, TX, while volunteering at a serving event at Gateway Church and have been married since 2002. Marriage, parenting and ministry all require a great deal of intentionality, humility and true reliance on God for strength, wisdom, and grace. It is a journey we are grateful to be on together. Ultimately, what matters to us is building into meaningful relationships in ways that, to the best of our ability and by God's grace, demonstrate the love and hope Jesus freely offers to us all. ************************************************ We bring both business and ministry backgrounds into our current work. John started a business in his 20's and helped build several other businesses. He has also served with churches in a variety of roles including as an assistant pastor, director of community development, and missions board member. Kaylee left her marketing career to become the global missions director for our home church in Austin, TX, then founded a local refugee ministry, and became TEFL certified (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in order to prepare for our work overseas. We have led short-term teams domestically and internationally, and served with a variety of cross-cultural ministries. In 2008, we sensed a call to build into the church in Europe, which was also around the time when God broke Kaylee’s heart for refugees. Since then, God has continued to weave together this heart for refugees, desire to serve alongside the church, and focus on His call to Europe.
Refugee Stories (4)
Unaccompanied Refugee Youth (7)
unaccompanied refugee children