Joani Akers dedicates her life to helping refugees at St. Louis’ Oasis International


ST. LOUIS – There is a place in St. Louis for refugees to go if they have lost their family, jobs, homes or even their own country. They are greeted with love and care as they seek refuge and try to start anew. Oasis International wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the vision and mission of one woman, a FOX 2 Remarkable Woman Joani Akers.

Akers and her husband found themselves at a crossroad when they got laid off as pastors at a church in West County. That is when Oasis International began.

“I left my job and really God has just provided for us this is all donations for churches, individuals and people that just believe this is what we are supposed to do, to love these people who have come to our city,” Akers said.

It doesn’t take long, to see the love and compassion Akers has for these families. She leads English classes and has helped hundreds become US citizens. From welcoming newborns to counseling women in trauma, her generosity knows no bounds.

In 2006, the Akers were blessed with this building on Gravois in south St. Louis and it has given refugees a place to call home and a place that offers hope and peace. (drone shot)

“So then they come to St. Louis and wow, they need a lot of help, a lot of help, practical help, emotional help, so it’s been a joy. Believe me the thing that has blessed me and surprised me is just what a blessing it is to help these people,” Akers said.

“God’s word has a lot to say about loving the foreigner in your city and so we take that seriously. Ya know, he defends the widow and the orphan, or person. He’s not partial, he loves these people, so there’s a reason they’ve been brought, they’ve come here so that we might reach out to them and help them.”

The couple knows first-hand where some of the refugees lived before fleeing to America. They visited a refugee camp with 120,000 people living in it in Jordan on the border of Syria to see relatives of some of the refugees in St. Louis.

“They have been through the trauma of a war and then many of them have lived in refugee camps for years, I mean 20 years even and then some, less than 1 percent get out of the refugee camps,” Akers said.

Every year 500 to 1000 refugees come to St. Louis from 35 different nations with the promise of starting a new life.

“We’re really just like a mom and dad to these young families because many of them they have lost their dads. Their dad’s may have been killed in the war or their parents are alive, but they are thousands of miles away,” Akers said.

They also have volunteers that help them run Oasis International. They also have a good neighbor program that connects St. Louisans to a refugee family.

“The refugees that have come to St. Louis we watch them getting better and better and there is someone there to kind of walk alongside them,” Akers said.

Even though Joani Akers was nominated as a FOX 2 Remarkable Woman, her focus quickly moved to the refugees.

“There are many, many remarkable women and I tell you the refugee women that I know are extremely remarkable.” To learn more about Oasis International or to donate, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News