Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries or F.I.R.M.’s mission is to share Christ’s love while building communities of hope with new Americans.
Zachary D. Darrah
Zachary Darrah is the executive director for F.I.R.M. He states that Fresno provides a wonderful place for refugees fleeing their countries. They find Fresno’s low cost of living very appealing to families. Many of the communities they serve are Southeast Asian, Ukrainian, and Slovik, African, and Syrians. The Southeast Asian communities generally consist of Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the US following the North Vietnamese invasion of Laos and Laotian Civil War during the Vietnam War. They provide rich culture and add diversity to the area. This happens to be the biggest refugee population in the Fresno area. Not as big as the Hmong community, Zachary describes the other programs such as the African, Syrian and Ukrainian. The war in Syria has displaced half of the population or 12 million. Fresno is a secondary resettlement area. Once a refugee has been admitted into the United States they are free to move where they like. Fresno can be up to a quarter of the price for housing, hence the influx of recent Syrians.
F.I.R.M has 5 gardens in the surrounding area. These gardens are essential for these new families, explains Zachary. These gardens can serve up to 100 gardeners. 3 gardens are for the southeast Asians, 1 for the Ukrainians, and 1 for the African community. Mental health plays a huge role in the refugee community, having clean and traditional food, is one aspect.
Volunteers are crucial for the work of F.I.R.M. Zachary explains that without the 1,000 volunteers annually, they couldn’t provide the necessary amenities for the refugees. Their administration building is very old and through the work of donations and volunteers, they were able to have new paint and flooring throughout.