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Tampa nonprofit Radiant Hands keeps close watch on Ukraine refugee crisis

Radiant Hands starts to discuss how to help Ukrainian refugees if they relocate to Tampa Bay
Radiant Hands Chad Mills WFTS.png
Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 08:00:36-05

TAMPA, Fla. — As the Tampa nonprofit Radiant Hands keeps a close watch on the Ukraine refugee crisis, leaders prepare for what they could do to help if refugees relocate locally.

At Radiant Hands, the constant work of helping refugees is gratifying to people like Ghadir Kassab.

Kassab, the nonprofit’s director, is a refugee herself. She fled here from Syria.

“(I) came into this business because I wanted to help people whom I know exactly what they’ve been through and what they’re suffering from,” she said.

In recent years, her nonprofit off Fletcher Avenue helped other refugees from Syria resettle in Tampa Bay.

More recently, it began assisting hundreds of Afghan refugees who left Afghanistan as the Taliban took over. According to its mission, Radiant Hands provides refugees “with spiritual, emotional, educational, and financial support with the goal of helping them to achieve independence in mind.”

Now, as Russia invades Ukraine and a new humanitarian crisis unfolds, Kassab is watching.

“It’s very sad,” she said. “It always brings, you know, those emotions of, you know, losing everything.”

The United Nations estimates 520,000 refugees have already left Ukraine and up to 4 million could flee in the coming days and weeks.

“We are not even scratching the surface to meet the needs of Ukrainians,” a UN commissioner warned on Monday.

Last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the United States is preparing to accept some of those refugees, but she added that “most, if not the majority” will likely resettle in Europe.

Still, discussions at Radiant Hands are already starting and are focused on a key question: How can it get prepared if Ukrainian refugees do come to Tampa Bay?

For Kassab, it means connecting with the Ukrainian community already in Tampa Bay and people who speak the language. The individuals could potentially serve as liaisons and help Ukrainian refugees adjust faster to American life.

“We always discuss the fact that the more organized we are — the more resourceful we are with other communities and other organizations — the more capable we are in doing what we’re doing, especially if we’ve got experience,” Kassab said.

While the nonprofit doesn’t yet know if Ukrainian refugees will relocate here, she believes it and other partner organizations will be ready to answer the call and help, if so.

Another way she says her nonprofit can get prepared is by finding more volunteers.

You can apply to volunteer with Radiant Hands at this link.