We’re in this for the long haul!
When families from Africa came to Charleston for resettlement 16 months ago, a crew of volunteers went into action: securing housing and furnishings; setting up utility accounts; stocking the pantry; finding clothing suitable to West Virginia weather; enrolling the children in school; obtaining immunizations …
After immediate needs were met, orientation to Charleston and West Virginia began. This included introduction to grocery stores; medical providers including HealthRight; ESL classes and tutors; faith communities; the bus system; technology (the school system uses iPads); and the local USCIS office.
Our pro bono attorney and WVIRM co-founder, Lynn Clarke, has provided hundreds of hours helping the families achieve a formal declaration of acceptance of their applications for asylum. Court hearings have been postponed due to the Court’s failure to obtain a translator and, now, because of the coronavirus.
Still, we press on.
After all, if these families can travel thousands of miles (by foot, ship, bus, horse and foot again) over some of the most dangerous terrain in the world, how can we not persevere? The families’ faith provides hope to us all.
Welcoming the families to Charleston doesn’t stop with a furnished house. The families have emotional needs as well. They are far from their families and worried about the effects of the coronavirus in their home countries. In addition, their relatives may be subject to greater scrutiny because of the activities of the families seeking asylum here in the U.S.
Church World Service offers these tips to stay connected. Try one today!
- Share DVDs or Audio Books. The Stay-at-Home Order limits the families’ ability to interact with native English speakers. The more they can practice English, the better their chances of getting hired when the economy opens back up.
- Consider ordering some fresh groceries and have them delivered to a newly arrived client’s home. Some ideas: Fruits, Vegetables, Rice, Bread, Milk and Eggs. We’ll be posting foods the families like on our website or Facebook page soon.
- Due to the reduction and laying off of some service industry jobs, consider donating to a client’s rent to provide an extra cushion of support.
- The families’ cell phone plans do not cover international phone calls. A gift card would be appreciated.
Check our Facebook page and group page frequently for more ideas on how to keep West Virginia, Wild, Wonderful and Welcoming.