Our Immigration Support Ministry has been busy preparing for the resettlement of Afghan refugees. We have been in many conversations with Lutheran Social Services, our co-sponsor in this effort. They have provided excellent training about how to work with families, what the expectations are and how to best support them. During this time, we have recruited Circle of Welcome members who will walk beside these families as they begin their new lives in the United States.
Our first Circle of Welcome team of five was notified that a family of 10 would be moving into a house, after spending 3 weeks in a hotel. LSS was lucky enough to find housing suitable and large enough for their family. Finding permanent housing is one of the most difficult services for LSS to secure currently. The Basilica was able to utilize our partnership with the St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store to find furniture and furnishings for the home. In all things, LSS has reminds us, we need to be flexible because things are happening at a fast pace.
The day before the family was to move into the home there was a cadre of volunteers cleaning, setting up and moving furniture. Asia, Muhammad and six of their children made a surprise visit to the house and dropped off items they had been storing in their hotel. Their children range in ages from infant to 17 years of age. As with many rental properties, there are several items the landlord will need to attend to.
The Circle of Welcome team hopes to meet the entire family of 10 people and their case worker early in the week of November 15th. They will be meeting with them regularly the next six months, and maybe longer. During this time some of the things they will do is help the family tackle the outstanding items on the fix-it list, practice English with the children and mother (the father speaks English very well), show the family how to ride the transit, help locate Halal grocery stores and take them shopping. They may need to help set up bank accounts, take family to doctor or dentist appointments. The goal is to help this family achieve self-sufficiency as soon as possible and make the experience as welcoming as possible.
As our partner at LSS has said, “this is an historic time!” We hope to make their resettlement as positive as possible.
Immigration Support Ministry