Imagine being forced to flee from your beloved home country due to war and widespread daily violence. Your children and spouse face constant danger and staying in your home is not an option. Now picture yourself coming to a new country where almost nobody speaks your language and you occasionally receive dirty looks for simply speaking your native tongue. The world around you is like nothing you have ever seen. The food, cultural norms, weather, currency and even music is like night and day compared to what you have experienced. These would be extremely hard obstacles for anyone to overcome. You arrive in a new country with the help of a refugee agency who assists you for the first few months. After their assistance expires you are on your own in this new environment. It is nearly impossible to find work immediately when you have a limited ability to speak the language. You are enrolled in English classes, but securing income becomes the next challenge you must overcome. This is the crisis situation facing several of the families that we serve.
Recently, we received a call from Kentucky Refugee Ministries on behalf of a Syrian family looking for assistance with rent. With the aid of an interpreter, we were able to determine their need and schedule an appointment for financial assistance. The family consists of mother, father and five small children. The mother came in for the appointment because she has best ability with English, but she only knew a few key words. We did not have the interpreter for the appointment so we used an online translator as much as possible. It is not as precise as desired when translating from English to Arabic so hand signals and drawings filled in the gaps. We contacted local churches on
behalf of the family and reached out for other assistance to help them. Thanks to the generosity of local churches and funds from Metro government, we were able to collect several hundred dollars toward their rent and advocate with their landlord. In addition, we assisted the family with needed canned goods and fresh produce, as well as baby supplies and information and referrals to other local resources. We were able to stabilize their situation for at least thirty days while they establish themselves, and continued their English classes.
Even after experiencing war, dangerous travel, and many challenges to get to the United States, many families like this one face unforeseen obstacles even after they arrive. What we see across the desk, however, is a determined desire for security, economic stability, and the pursuit of happiness.