Support Refugee Families Toward Independence
By Refugee Resettlement Team #2
- Unitarian Universalism Connection
Our Refugee Resettlement Team raises funds to supplement expenses for incoming refugee families settling in the San Gabriel Valley, California. The three biggest needs are housing, English language skills and employment. Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment including utilities is about $1,800. Your donation could be the deposit that moves a family into their new home.
Additional needs include: driving lessons, furniture and clothing, transportation, utilities, and registration assistance for social services, schools, and medical appointments. Our goal is to ensure that families become fully independent within twelve months.
Most families are fleeing war-torn homelands. They arrive alone and scared, often having used up all their financial resources to get to the U.S. As an example, we are currently helping a family whose lives were threatened after the father helped the U.S Army Corps rebuild bridges in Iraq. Typically, refugees start with temporary quarters in private homes or motels. Then we find adequate housing and employment. The funds we raise will be used to help families overcome the obstacles posed by their lack of credit and employment.
Some families we assist have members with medical conditions and children whose education was interrupted while waiting in refugee camps. Most families arrive with job skills, but they need English lessons and transportation in order to get to work.
While the local community has already come together to provide $3,000, the costs of getting settled in a new country with limited resources is substantial.
Here are a few examples of how your contributions will support refugee families:
- $20 -food from pantries and clothing from thrift stores
- $75 -household items such as linens, kitchen items, toys, etc.
- $150-baby crib, mattress & accessories
- $300-driving lessons, license fees, train & bus tickets, car seats
- $500-small home appliances
- $900-half a month’s rent
1. AN APPEAL TO CONSCIENCE
by Adnan Aswad, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Engineering, the University of Michigan-Dearborn
The human misery resulting from the international and regional proxy wars in Syria is beyond description. The physical and psychological destruction that resulted in the suffering of almost 12 million displaced people is incomprehensible. We in the US bear part of the responsibility for this tragedy, and many people of conscience are working on alleviating the misery and suffering of homeless refugee families.
One such group is Refugee Resettlement Team #2 here in the Inland Empire that is raising funds to provide housing for a second Syrian refugee family that has spent about three years in refugee camps, and after a thorough security vetting was selected to settle in the US. The Team is also working on providing transportation for the refugee family members while the adults are looking for employment, the children going to schools, and for securing their daily necessities.
Please consider a generous tax deductible contribution to the Refugee Resettlement Team 2 in order to assist them in their laudable humanitarian efforts of helping our future citizens.
To make Contributions – click on FUND NOW at top of this page.
2. WE HAD NO HELP, IT WAS DIFFICULT by Shahim Shaar, student, age 18
I came to America with my family from Syria in late 2014 after we had spent most of our savings surviving the war. We were in a terrible financial situation, and we needed to save every dollar we could. Unfortunately, we had no one to advise us or guide us in this situation. We were living in a very rent-expensive apartment without knowing that there were cheaper apartments available, we were going to a pharmacy that was far more expensive than Walmart, no one gave us any guidance or advice about anything.
We were very lost, and in those first months of life in America we were unable to save any money. If we had people to support us and give us advice about life in the US, we would now be in a much better financial standing. We were lucky because I had some English language skills, and that helped us a little in navigating our way through the very stressful beginning stage of life in America. If my English wasn’t as good, I think we would have been doomed. That is why refugee support groups and volunteers are such an important asset; they help us –the clueless refugees– through the arduous process of assimilation.
Financially supporting those groups and volunteers gives them the ability to help refugees in becoming independent, secure, and happy. By donating to this wonderful group, you would be making a very tangible and positive difference in a refugee family’s life.
Few issues embody UU Principles more fully than social justice: especially when millions of families are displaced due to war. The principle of “Justice, equity and compassion in human relations” demands that action be taken to help these families. Members of Refugee Resettlement Team #2 believe that supporting Refugee families claims the first UU principle: a belief “in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” Housing is our primary funding need. Our project brings people from various ages, faiths, skills and talents together. By their actions, the Refugee Resettlement Team #2 members exhibit UU values. They show their "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part". Team members feel that it is only right and just that we secure safe places for our immigrant families to live and work.
Refugee Resettlement Team #2 evolved from a group of Pomona & San Gabriel Valley community activists who asked: What can we do to help refugees in our midst? Some immigrant families had already arrived from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan with more on their way. Community activists on Team #1 shared their experiences about their support team. Volunteers immediately signed up to establish a new volunteer group, now called the “Refugee Resettlement Team #2”. The group is both secular and interfaith; members are Presbyterian, Mormon, Catholic, Unitarian, Church of Christ, Muslim, Friends, and more. The First Presbyterian Church and Islamic Center open their doors for English language classes, events and social activities for the community. The goal of Refugee Resettlement Team #2 is to make our new (refugee) neighbors feel more at home.
OUR PARTNERS: Organizations with networks and connections to strengthen our efforts.
OUR ADVOCATES: People who commend, share and publicly support our work.
Barbara Aswad, UU, PhD, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Michigan
Mahmoud Tarifi, Officer at Islamic Center of Claremont & Leader in the Muslim community
Thomas Thorward, UU, President, Next Generation Solutions, Inc., a software development firm
Zayn Kassam, PhD, Author & Professor of Religious Studies, Pomona College, CA
Ann R. Schiff, President and CEO, Pilgrim Place, Claremont, CA