The Latest about the Refugee Family

Here’s an update from Sean White of St. Mary’s Church with the latest about the refugee family with whom we at Trinity Lime Rock are assisting:

This has been a busy, productive week for the Al Ghanems.

We’re making progress with all the legal formalities.  In particular, the family has gotten started on their medical exams, which is a federal requirement.  While the U.S. State Dept. gave them complete physicals before admitting them to the country, they must do another round of exams once they get here.  The kids cannot start at Salisbury Central before these are completed.

Formal English classes for the parents began on Monday at St. John’s Church in Salisbury.  The family is going to story hour at Scoville Library.  It will be a long road, but I see improvement already.  I had my first telephone conversation with Mahmoud!

IRIS completed its employment assessment of the parents.  Now the job search begins.  Mahmoud is an experienced construction worker and building contractor.  While his English skills are very limited, he is a legal resident of the United States with the right to work.  And he is eager to work.  We have already begun contacting local employers on his behalf.  If you have any leads, let us know.

During the first two weeks after they arrived, we did not want to overwhelm the family with too many new faces.  Now they are more comfortable here, and starting to feel at home.  This week many of you got involved for the first time.  Thanks!  We will be contacting more of you in the coming days for help with babysitting, driving, tutoring and many other tasks.

Stay tuned for more to come!!!

News about the refugee family….

As most of you know, Trinity Lime Rock is strongly supporting the Church of St. Mary in Lakeville in their efforts to resettle a refugee family in the Northwest Corner.   In the interests of keeping everyone well informed, here is an update from Sean White from St. Mary’s providing current news about the refugee family.

News about the refugee family

Dear fellow Refugee Committee members and friends-

The Al Ghanems are settling into their new home and discovering their new environment.  The family is wonderful: gracious and grateful. The kids are charming and ready to learn.  The father is eager to work.  The mother is happy to see her family in a safe place.

The Al Ghanems are amazed by their new home (thank you, Wendy Hamilton)!  And I am amazed by the enormous amount of work completed in three short weeks by the committed Trinity and St. Mary’s parishioners, particularly Bob and Carol Hoskins and John and Barbara Pogue who took charge of home preparation.  The generosity of many others in providing furniture and household goods, and stocking the kitchen with food is astonishing.

Our focus now turns to self-sufficiency.  This means employment and English language learning for the parents, and schooling for their children.

As we navigate these challenges, we are most fortunate to have native Arabic speaker Zeina Mehio on the team.  Every day, she is helping the family find their way in this strange new world.  She is getting help from fellow Arabic speakers Paula Russo and Samia Elsafty.

Interpreters are necessary right now, but English language proficiency is key to independence for the Al Ghanems.  Our group also includes Katherine Perry, an experienced, professional ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher.  She will begin formal English instruction at St. John’s next week for the parents (and other adults in town).  Informal English lessons began at JFK, and have continued on a daily basis.  Zeina and Katherine have been working tirelessly these past ten days!

You may have seen Katherine and Rick Meehan herding six kids at the Grove yesterday.  They’re loving it!  You may have seen me and Zeina at the Social Security Administration office in Torrington.  Not so much!

You may also see the Al Ghanems around town.  Please say hello!  They need to practice their English.

Much more remains to be done to get our family launched.  We are fortunate to have Dick Collins, a medical doctor, and B.J. Christinat, a social worker on our team to navigate the official resettlement requirements.  Once these formalities are complete, the kids will start at Salisbury Central School.  Principal Lisa Carter has welcomed us with open arms.

A few more shout-outs are in order.  Early this year, Lloyd Baroody and I were sitting around discussing the refugee crisis, wondering what we could do on a personal basis.  With the encouragement of Leo Gafney and Rick Meehan, we formed this group under the auspices of St. Mary’s Church.  Father Joe Kurnath gave us his full and unwavering support.  Heidi Truax at Trinity Lime Rock Church came on board without hesitation.  Others of different faiths and many with no religious connections joined to create this diverse mix of people—a dozen in the core group, and many dozens beyond.  We share one goal: to help a family in need.  Thank you all.  We’ve gone from talk to deeds in six short months!

Many of you have already made contributions; many more have offered to assist.  Here’s where we are:

Household goods: We do not need more food and furniture.  Our work is done as far as preparing the house and stocking the kitchen.

Helpers: We are OK with helpers for now.  Over the coming weeks, we will review our need for drivers, baby sitters, tutors, ESOL teachers etc.

Clothing: we are assessing the family’s needs.  We will solicit donations for new clothing for school and for the winter months, probably in October.

Employment: IRIS, our refugee agency, will assess the parents’ job skills next week.  Our group will help with their job search.  If you need hard workers with limited English, let us know!  

Money* and prayers: we need more! Keep it coming!

We will keep you posted on the Al Ghanems’ progress.  At some point, when they tell us they are ready, we will have a reception for the family at St. Mary’s.

Thanks again for your help so far.  I am proud to be part of such a welcoming community and country.

Regards-

Sean

*Send tax-deductible contributions to St. Mary’s Refugee Committee, St Mary Catholic Church, 76 Sharon Rd, Lakeville, CT 06039

NOTES For Trinity parishioners:

–You can also contribute financially by putting a check payable to St. Mary’s Refugee Committee in the Sunday offering.  We will get it to the right place.

–As more news about the refugee family comes in, we’ll provide updates in our weekly e-mail newsletter, the Trinity Update.  Want to receive the Trinity Update weekly (Wednesday afternoons, around 2 PM)?  It’s free, and you can unsubscribe any time — and you do NOT have to be a Trinity parishioner to subscribe!  CLICK HERE to subscribe — so you’ll always have current news about the refugee family.