“Are we sponsoring a refugee family?”
My first thought when I was asked this question by a CPC member recently was that the communication about our family must not be getting to everyone-------so please be sure to share this blog update! But then the answer to the question is “yes, but not in the way you may be thinking.” The resettling of refugees is a very different process in 2017 from what it was a couple of decades ago. These days, when an individual or family is given permission by the U.S. government to come to the U.S. as a refugee, they are usually coming through a refugee camp somewhere in the world where they have been waiting for years. It is an involved process with extensive security checks. The U.S. government sets yearly quotas for the numbers of refugees who may enter. In January the President halved the number that was previously in place. That number was reached this summer so new refugees are not coming in. (“Immigrants” and “Asylum Seekers” are different categories from “Refugees”.)
Refugee resettlement is handled through various organizations across the country (I think there are 6 national groups, primarily faith-based) who manage the government funding and the initial resettlement program. The group working in this geographical area is “World Relief” so this is the group with which we partner. In January, over two dozen folks from our church received training to volunteer through World Relief. We ended up forming two groups. One group helped a newly arrived Pakistani family who has since moved to California. The other group was connected to a family from Eritrea (north of Ethiopia). The primary function of our teams has been to form relationships with the families. You can read previous blog posts to see how this has played out. You can follow the links that are on this page.
Now that our Eritrean family has reached the end of their assistance time with World Relief (6 months), we continue as friends with them, bound together by a mutual love, like family. They do not have a car so we often help with appointments and transportation. Their English is improving tremendously, but they still need help with things like calling the landlord for a necessary repair, follow-up with the doctor and getting set up for the start of school.
Just last week we used funds from our CPC Pentecost Offering to purchase school supplies and a bicycle for the boys. We did the purchasing after getting their immunizations completed and they were so excited! A couple of days later I took the boys and mom to their elementary school Open House, then suggested we go back over the supply lists and get their backpacks ready. The boys quickly brought their backpacks out of their closet and showed me they had already done it. Everything was ready on Thursday for Monday morning. Wow!
And then the bicycle-----the two older boys had apparently tried out a bike at the home of another refugee family and were eager to have one. They (boys and parents) insisted that they only needed one. We would have been happy to purchase two since the boys aren’t the same size but respected their wishes and bought one with training wheels, along with a helmet! What joy! (And we can purchase a second bike later.)
We had previously said that we would use the Pentecost Offering funds for summer programs for the boys, but these became available at no charge. Then we said we would buy new shoes (that fit!) but then those became available at no charge as well. And they are all outfitted in clothes too. We are then holding the funds to use as needed. I explained that while “Mama Felicia” had the joy of buying and giving the school supplies and bicycle, these were from Clemmons Presbyterian----and they say “Thank you very much!” with huge smiles and happy hearts.
Welcome to a new way for the Clemmons Presbyterian Church Mission committee to report and inform our church family (and anyone else who links in) about our mission outreach. This blog has various parts representing our various ministries and begins with what we hope will be regular updates on our refugee families.