Your recent article about the tragic death of Richard Lobor, a Sudanese-American man who resettled to Portland from a war-torn country, begins to illustrate to readers the multifaceted challenges families face after war, forced migration and resettlement (“Amid struggle to fit in, gunshot fells refugee in Portland,” Dec. 15).

When war, trauma and actual death have invaded a family and their culture, relationships found within a supportive community are critical in re-establishing a sense of safety and hope.

Locally, Portland is a small and diverse city, with a lot of opportunity to reduce cultural barriers and to increase understanding for all people in our community. It starts with each one of us and continues with the educators, the health care system and public safety. Let’s make it a priority to increase awareness, deepen understanding and promote all children’s healing where we live and work.

For more than 17 years, the Center for Grieving Children, with our intercultural advisory council, has worked with Portland Public Schools to learn about and serve resettled children through our Multicultural Peer Support program.

We know that resettled youth benefit most from community support that promotes connectedness, calming, safety and hope for the future. Our program gives students the chance to safely express themselves and build positive relationships. It builds community among parents, educators and service providers.

Thirty-five volunteers help run the program each week. They are trained to provide grief support and recognize intercultural differences, preferences and traditions as well as understand what resettled children and families have experienced.

This spring, the center’s Intercultural Advisory Council will host a Community Conversation that invites the public to learn more about the experiences of resettled young people and families, for the benefit of the community overall.

Marie Sheffield

Multicultural Program director, Center for Grieving Children