Congratulations, Team! Thanks to your generous contributions and furnishings we were able to fully furnish their apartment, including gift cards! Thank you for shopping and dropping off your donations so quickly to help make this emergency set-up go smoothly. Because of Covid concerns, we were not comfortable having Ali and Jafar help set up this time. Big thanks to our hard working movers and shakers, and masters of assembly and curtain hanging, Bob Bonisolli and Greg Walsh. Great job, gentlemen! We ended up with a surprise helper. The Dad joined us to help unload furniture before he had to rush off to work! He was so nice and overwhelmed with gratitude. We still don’t know much information about their circumstances other than the Dad has been here for awhile living with a friend and the Mom and daughter were living in a refugee camp near Myanmar. We are grateful they are finally all together and can settle in their new beautiful home.
Check out the Washington Post’s recent article covering the terrific work of our Welcome Team Coordinator Holly Walsh and her ‘two Ali’s’.
On May 19, the White’s Chapel Refugee Initiative received a short notice call for help with an emergency arrival of refugees to DFW Int’l Airport. Those en route would need orientation, transportation, a meal, and basic furnishings for newly assigned apartments within 72 hours.
In record time, the WC-RI Welcome Committee – in partnership with the Islamic Center of Southlake and Muslims for Humanity – provided all that was needed and more. This multi-faith response under the extraordinary leadership of Holly and Greg Walsh is reflective of the WC-RI’s acton in all its outreach: We are called to support those forced to flee life-threatening oppression, no matter how short the notice or deep the need.
Thanks go out to all who collected, transported, prepared, assembled, and delivered the human face of Compassion to these beleaguered travelers – and others throughout the year. Through you, these newcomers to America see how God cares for all his children in every place and circumstance. Through Him and through you, these families will recover and thrive, contributing to their new country in ways as positive as your first encounter.
I have met some amazing “strangers in a strange land”, people who have escaped not simply hard economic times in their home countries but abject persecution, immense fear for their livelihood (if not their very lives), and in some cases, unimaginable torture for their race, religion, nationality, or opinions. Some have had to flee, leaving their children behind. Having lived an average of 7 years in out-of-the-country refugee camps and being surreptitiously spied upon to ensure they meet strict guidelines, they have finally arrived as refugees in North Texas.
They are assisted by private agencies like Refugee Services of Texas and are cared for by WC Refugee Initiative Welcome Team coordinated by Holly Walsh. Holly and her team greet them at DFW airport and escort them to government-provided apartments that the Team has transformed from bare and empty to warm, inviting, and fully-furnished from donations, the pantries stocked with nourishing food. The Team provides them with a warm, welcoming meal and spends some time with them that first day.
But, the support and love does not stop there. The White’s Chapel Refugee Initiative (WCRI) helps the families acclimate by helping them acquire drivers’ licenses, find doctors, by driving them to appointments, and much more. Landlords sometimes try to take advantage of these tenants; members of the WCRI act as advocates on these refugees’ behalf. Some of the refugees are seeking asylum from the U.S. government. WCRI helps them find attorneys, like the ones at Justice for Our Neighbors, a United Methodist Immigration Ministry.
Although these refugees might have been lawyers, farmers, or factory workers,they often limited to menial jobs like those mandating graveyard shift hours. In order to sustain a minimum life style, many have found it necessary to work several jobs just to survive. Amazingly, most are self-sufficient within 4 months.
The most significant challenge they face is their language skill. They must improve their English. So, the Refugee Initiative holds English classes for adult refugees. The program is called the WCRI English Language Learning (ELL) and Laura Bussell is the Coordinator. Classes are held on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The curriculum is Cambridge Publishing’s Ventures. There are 6 levels and American culture is infused within each unit. But, ELL volunteers enrich it with other cultural events, like history lessons about the wacky tradition of Halloween and Thanksgiving, trick-or-treating down the hallways, reading Luke 2 at a Christmas party filled with Christmas cookies and carols and a lively game of Christmas bingo, potluck Friendsgiving celebrations, and patriotic picnics. In addition, they emphasize important habits for becoming a good employee like on-time attendance and participation by awarding incentive “dollars” that can be used periodically in “stores” filled with donated items.