Back to top



People in bright colored coats stand with their arms around each other, with their backs facing the camera

Photo: Vonecia Carswell

Reaching out to refugees

The United States is just one country feeling the impact of a historic era of global upheaval and displacement. The United Nations Refugee Agency cites some 103 million people forcibly displaced worldwide—a figure that has more than doubled over the past 20 years. Conflicts and unrest in Ukraine and Afghanistan are contributing to this increase. Even from its far-flung locations in western Massachusetts, the UMass community is stepping up to help. And these efforts are making a real impact—one refugee at a time.

1,500 >

Number of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in Massachusetts receiving mental health support through the Social and Emotional Wellbeing intervention at UMass. Funded by a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, the intervention teaches techniques for reducing stress and solving problems in order to thrive in a new country. Associate professors Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar and Krishna Poudel lead the program.

$8,880 >

Amount raised by donors to pay for 100 sleeping bags, 30 suitcases, medical supplies, transportation, and accommodations for Ukrainian refugees at the border of Poland. Charli Carpenter, professor of political science and director of the Human Security Lab, led the effort and assisted refugees on-site.

15+ >

Number of Afghan women refugees living in western Mass who attend biweekly empowerment teas at the Center for International Education (CIE). Sessions are run by the participants themselves and cover the challenges of resettlement, including navigating the health care system, managing isolation, learning English, and other skills. A spinoff children’s group meets in the room next door. The center has raised $5,000 for the program from CIE alumni and support agencies since it began in April 2022.