The Tewelde family has now been in the U.S. for six months! While we have only known them for about three months, this means that the support they have received through World Relief (and the federal government) is coming to an end. The two men in the family now have regular jobs which is definitely cause for celebration! Since they still qualify for community services, they have just enough income to make it on their own. That said, our relationships with them are absolutely vital.
The men pay their co-workers, fellow refugees, for rides to and from work each day. The boys ride the bus to school during the school year, and the family rides the bus to the grocery store and to appointments downtown (World Relief office). Members of our team drive them to doctors’ appointments, and help with scheduling and follow-up. These appointments are difficult enough if your English and understanding of “the system” are good, but simply impossible for our refugee friends alone. We have also provided transportation each morning and afternoon for the boys to go to the YMCA enrichment program at their school, where they also receive breakfast and lunch! They are having a great time at day-camp and their English skills continue to grow by leaps and bounds. We’ve helped the family sort through banking and paying bills. Imagine doing that without transportation, without a computer, and with limited English language skills!
Vacation Bible School has been a real joy this week! This was the family’s first visit to our church, and they have instantly felt welcome. Thank you CPC! The older two boys have participated in classes and “the baby” (he’s almost 2) has played in the nursery with Carolyn. Meanwhile we (Felicia and Sarah) have been teaching English classes with the adults. The men haven’t been able to come every night because of work, but the mom, who has been unable to attend English classes previously, is really soaking it up. We’ve been learning together! English is not simple. The adults’ education in Eritrea was limited, varying from 3-9 years of schooling, but the boys received about 4 years of school in their refugee camp in Ethiopia.
We also learned that they know a lot about the American way of celebrating Christmas because they had seen some American television. We can’t wait to show them the Tanglewood lights! We drew Inessa (who with her family came here as a refugee over 20 years ago) into the room and were able to talk about the Russian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Christmas. We know we have a lot we can learn from these friends!
Thanks to your contributions through the Peacemaking Offering, we are going to buy the children new shoes (not hand-me-downs, and ones that fit) and we will see that they are well-outfitted for the start of school.
The family will be at the Dash baseball game with us, and later, as we are able to provide transportation, you may see them at other events. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and express your welcome to them. Smiles and handshakes are great expressions of the love of Christ, and our welcoming 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.