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Our Mission

The Refugee Health Initiative (RHI) aims to directly address health disparities by pairing student volunteers with refugee families within the community. Through multiple interactive sessions, our volunteers promote health literacy by covering topics such as healthcare navigation, medication management, and stress management. As a volunteer with RHI, students have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on refugees’ lives while learning to provide direct service to a particularly underserved community.


About Us

The Refugee Health Initiative (RHI) was founded in 2009 by a small group of UNC medical students and expanded by 2010-2011 Albert Schweitzer Fellow Dan White. RHI serves the health and wellness needs of the refugee population in the Research Triangle area. Upon resettlement to the United States, refugees may face financial, linguistic and cultural barriers to accessing quality healthcare. In order to address some of these difficulties, we have partnered with a local refugee resettlement agency (Church World Service, in Durham) and provide a variety of services to recently resettled refugees in the area. In addition to direct service, we also strive to be advocates for the refugee community and to educate students and health professionals about the needs of this population. In the spring of 2011, we officially partnered with SHAC to become an ongoing program.

Home Visit Program

The home visit program is our largest and most involved program that partners health professional student volunteers (medical, public health, social work, pharmacy, etc.) with refugee families within the community. Volunteers then complete a series of home visits with their assigned families to address any predetermined gaps in health literacy that families may have in order to promote refugee health and wellness and to further our mission of achieving health equity.

Links for Current Volunteers

USCRI Healthy Living Toolkit:
Church World Service (Durham Office):


Unfortunately, RHI is not accepting new volunteers at this time. We plan to resume services in the Fall of 2021. Please check back during the summer for volunteer applications and opportunities to become a volunteer with RHI.

Contact Us

For questions related to the Refugee Health Initiative, please contact