Update on Refuge for Refugees activities during this time of physical distancing.
A video of the wonderful work of the Refuge for Refugees Ministry of St. Paul’s has been produced. Click HERE to download.
Of the six families Refuge for Refugees (R4R) has sponsored since 2016, two families have moved away – to Minnesota and Iowa – where there are large communities of people from their home countries.
We still have four families that we continue to assist when needed. All but one are doing well, especially well considering the terrible times we are experiencing.
The father of our first family (from Afghanistan) delivers ice cream and other groceries to grocery stores. His job is secure as long as he stays healthy. The mother has one semester left at Wake Tech for a degree in Dental Assisting. Both daughters are doing well in school, and all speak excellent English. They are essentially independent of us, and we maintain contact with them simply as friends.
The father of another family (also from Afghanistan) delivers beverages to grocery stores, so his job is secure as well. He is in the process of learning to drive a truck for his company, whereupon his income should increase significantly. We helped them file their taxes earlier this year, and we continue to assist them with their rent, using a grant from the Episcopal Housing Ministry. (Their five-year old boy set fire to the bedroom curtains at their first apartment, and they were evicted. The EHM grant helped to cover their initial housing expenses and is helping to ameliorate the increase in monthly rent they must pay as a result of the fire.) All but the mother speak excellent English, but she has been taking ESL classes.
The third family that we help (again, from Afghanistan) is newly arrived. (They arrived in February.) They are still under the umbrella of USCRI, so they are fine financially as well for the next few months.
Only one of our refugee families (from Myanmar) has experienced a collapse of income due to Covid-19. The father cleaned hotel rooms and was laid off in March. Clearly, there is no work at this time.
So, let me tell you how we are assisting these families during this time of crisis.
We have worked to ensure that the children of these families can continue with their education online. To that end, we provided laptops or tablets for the children to access the Wake County Public School System classes, teachers, and resources online. (We are extremely grateful to those St. Paul’s members who contributed tablets or computers for the children to use.) On top of that, one R4R member set up these devices and showed the children how to use them. She also obtained low-cost internet access for the three newest families.
The children in the newly-arrived family had just gotten started at school when the system was shut down because of the virus. One of our R4R members has made it her mission to ensure that these children are connecting to their teachers online, so they can begin to catch-up on their education. Getting all of this done has been no small effort!
And for our out-of-work family, two R4R volunteers have spent an unbelievable number of hours applying for food stamps, tax refunds, and unemployment compensation on their behalf. We have been successful with the food stamps and the tax refunds, but at present, this refugee is still not approved for unemployment compensation. Once again, the Episcopal Housing Ministry contributed a significant sum of money to assist with rent while the stay-at-home orders are in place, and St. Paul’s, through R4R, has contributed funds to get them through the next few months. In addition, we have provided food each week while they had no food stamp benefits.
I would like to thank our wonderful group of volunteers, who have given unselfishly of their time and their funds to help these refugee families and to interact with them – all while practicing safe physical distancing and hygiene protocols – so that they, too, can cope with life during this time of Covid-19.
MM Cupitt, Chair of the Refuge for Refugees CommitteeTags: Whats-Happening