As we have been reading in the news, it has primarily been the churches in our country who have taken it upon themselves to follow Jesus teachings and provide help to the refugees. And believe it or not, last year, 900 refugee families were resettled in the state of Connecticut. These are not just families from Syria, but also from the Congo and other countries in crisis.
I recently attended a meeting of representatives from local churches at Covenant Church in Easton to discuss a plan to sponsor a refugee family. Several local Connecticut towns have already sponsored refugee families – for example, Milford, Ridgefield, Greenwich, Westport, Bridgeport – with the help of the IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services) organization. There are also other organizations engaged in refugee assistance in our area, most notably IICONN.org, which is located in Bridgeport.
Fairfield Grace has already received a generous monetary donation to the refugee cause. This is a great start, but more donations will be required to reach the level of funding needed. The group has created a GoFundMe page for Easton ACTS at: https://www.gofundme.com/easton-act-refugee-resettlement-fun
The goal is to raise a total of $10,000 to cover the cost to support a family for the first 6 months. After 6 months, the family must be self sufficient, and amazingly enough, the program is working, and these families are self sufficient within this timeframe!
What the Easton group is now attempting to do is to organize all interested volunteers into committees that will scout out the resources necessary to make a refugee resettlement possible. There are quite a few things that need to happen before a group can sponsor a family. For example:
- Affordable housing must be found;
- Jobs for the adult(s) need to be researched;
- English as a second language services must be located;
- Rides to and from meetings and services appointments must be volunteered for;
- Social services applications must be filled out;
- Children must be registered for school.
This is just a sampling of the volunteer work that will be needed.
For more information, please contact Kristina Joukhadar, Gail Lent, or Amy Zima & Stephanie Wirth. There is also a facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/eastonacts/ .