The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center
Every day, hundreds of men and boys make their way to the Episcopal Church in Rome, descending the steps that lead into the church's crypt to seek answers and assistance from the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center. The JNRC, the only day center for refugees in Rome, was dedicated in 1995. The center, located at St. Paul’s Within the Walls, provides a sanctuary for refugees to seek advice and assistance.
Once inside, guests may receive a nutritious breakfast, have a chance to rest in a safe place, access a supply closet with clothing items and basic necessities, play foosball, ping pong, or chess, and watch news bulletins from around the world. Many guests take advantage of services and programs like language classes (Italian, French, and English), navigation assistance (where an experienced refugee guest helps new arrivals to “navigate” the various immigration, medical and legal appointments required for integration), or to access the services of psychotherapists, who help guests cope with what has often been a chaotic and traumatic journey between their countries of origin and Rome.
The Center receives daily anywhere from 100-225 guests in the JNRC, depending on the season. A growing number of dedicated volunteers give of their time and talent to help ease the burdens that accompany each visitor.