Stories

BRIDGE CONTINUES SERVICES, SPREADS HOPE DURING PANDEMIC

As the COVID-19 virus has spread globally, Bridge Refugee Services’ leaders have taken their mission to promote hope to heart in East Tennessee. “Our whole team is working collaboratively to help people cope,” said Bridge Executive Director Drocella Mugorowera. “This is a time of action, reflection, compassion, helping one another, sending messages of love and… Continue Reading

UNLIKELY CROSSING: REFUGEE AND FRIEND REUNITE IN CHATTANOOGA

When Sudanese refugee Marwah Kuku learned in 2019 she was going to be resettled in Chattanooga, she had never heard of the city. At the time, she was living in Amman, Jordan, and working for the global humanitarian organization World Relief to serve other refugees from various countries. “I did not know where this is,”… Continue Reading

COUPLE SUPPORTS BRIDGE REFUGEES WITH TAX SAVINGS

When the federal tax overhaul was passed in 2017, Kevin and Courtney Brown made a decision. Although the new policy put more money in their pockets at the end of the year, they saw that it cost lower-income families more. So, instead of buying a new TV or going on vacation, the couple decided to… Continue Reading

CONGOLESE STUDENT EXCELS AT STEM

As a rookie member of the school’s Robotics team, the STEMpunks, Phillip cheered on the team’s robot, Rosetta, a.k.a. Rosie, as it completed a series of challenges during the fair’s Robotics competition. “He was hands-on, jumped in and stayed in the pit to fix the robot and work with the other STEMpunks,” said Nick Sirek,… Continue Reading

FORMER BOSNIAN REFUGEE ‘PAYS IT FORWARD’

Last Christmas, Olivera Dessieux delivered nearly 300 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to children served by Bridge Refugee Services and a Knoxville elementary school. This holiday season, the former Bridge client organized another community donation drive aimed at giving children entering the foster-care system a new duffel bag to carry hygiene products and other items so they won’t… Continue Reading

‘MY CHILDREN GOT A BETTER LIFE’

It’s been almost 30 years since Manjay fled civil conflict in Liberia with her four children, ages three to nine, and walked to the Ivory Coast. In 2005, the family walked off the airplane into a new life in Knoxville. “I didn’t know anybody,” she says. She didn’t speak English. Her children had never been… Continue Reading

COUPLE REUNITES AFTER SIX YEARS

When Muhyidin came to Chattanooga in 2016, he made a decision. If his wife couldn’t join him within five years, he would go back home. He had left his country, a newlywed, in 2013 as one of hundreds of thousands fleeing ongoing conflict and ethnic struggle in his home city of Darfur. He and Arafa… Continue Reading

INTERPRETER FOLLOWS IN FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS

When Sarah Whayeb greets Arabic-speaking refugees who arrive in East Tennessee, shewelcomes them in her native language. But Sarah, an interpreter with Bridge Refugee Services, understands first-hand the culture shock, exhaustion and uncertainty they’re experiencing, as well. With Bridge’s help, she resettled in Chattanooga 11 years ago after fleeing war-torn Iraq with her mother, older… Continue Reading

NEW SEWING PROGRAM BRINGS CLIENTS TOGETHER TO LEARN ENTERPRISE SKILLS

Claudine Tuyisenge didn’t know how to handle a needle, let alone a sewing machine whenshe participated last month in a sewing workshop offered through Bridge Refugee Services’ Knoxville office. “Now I can make my own skirt,” says Claudine, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who resettled in Knoxville with Bridge’s help. Claudine… Continue Reading

COUPLE FOUNDS CHATTANOOGA COFFEE BUSINESS WITH REFUGEES IN MIND

Cherita Rice understood the plight of refugees at an age most aren’t aware they exist. She’s a native of the unique community enclave of Clarkston, Ga., where thousands of refugees settled and built new lives. “All my friends were refugees,” she says, hailing from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, all over the world. The experience led her… Continue Reading