The U-S Conference of Mayors recently gave the city of Dayton its "Outstanding Achievement" award for its leadership in developing and implementing a model for programs that improve the quality of life for legal immigrants living in America's cities.
The "Welcome Dayton" program has helped connect immigrants to educational and business opportunities. Migwe Kimenia is working with the American Friends Service Committee to help Dayton city leaders implement the program. The Welcome Dayton plan, a city-wide soccer tournament that connected immigrants and refugees from different countries, and an entrepreneurship program that has started a coffee roasting cooperative among African refugees, are helpful to those new to the country.
MK: To be able to pursue their hopes and dreams we believe entrepreneurship is the best opportunity and a good starting point. and we are happy the city of Dayton has embraced that line of thinking, that we can empower people through entrepreneurship and small business development.
Kimenia says immigrants tend to lose their sense of community, and refugees from Africa are particularly marginalized.
MK: Refugee camps in Africa don't have a lot of facilities, especially access to basic education. So most of them don't know how to read or write, they have never lived in a city; so when they are brought here they find it very difficult to adjust.
Dayton leaders say the program helps the local economy and helps create a better quality of life for all residents.