Interfaith Committee for Refugee Resettlement
Welcoming a Neighbor by Settling a Refugee Family in Westchester
Christ's Church is a part of an interfaith group that includes Rye Presbyterian and Rye Community Synagogue. As a group we are supporting a refugee family from Afghanistan.
Background: How are Refugees Resettled?
The UNHCR (UN High Commissioner on Refugees) by mandate and law globally undertakes to resettle refugees. In recent years, the USA has been world's top resettlement country. In the USA, UNHCR works with any one of 9 faith based national resettlement agencies who act on behalf of the US Government. These resettlement agencies help the newly arrived refugees settle and integrate into local communities. In our case, we are working with HIAS (global Jewish non-profit that protects refugees) which is also the oldest resettlement organization in the world.
How Did we Find a Family?
In November 2016 a local Interfaith Committee was formed among Christ's Church, Rye Presbyterian and Rye Community Synagogue to work toward welcoming and supporting a refugee family. Rye Community Synagogue took the lead. Our initial thoughts were to resettle a Syrian family, but due to the uncertainty in immigration policies and politics, that was not tenable. We continued to work with HIAS, and through them fortunately were able to resettle a family from Afghanistan in mid July 2017. There are 4 in the family, a mom, a dad and 2 elementary school aged boys. They are here under Special Immigrant Visas (green cards) which are given to people who worked for the US military in Afghanistan or Iraq.
How is the Family Doing?
The family is settled in an apartment in White Plains that the Committee found, helped furnish and subsidizes. Organizations such as the local Y offered a free membership. The Westchester Quilters Guild provided hand made quilts. The Committee helped register the children for school and got them ready with supplies and clothing. They helped the mother register for ESL classes at Westchester Community College, helped them all select and visit doctors and a pediatric dentist. The Committee helped the father buy a used car, and find a job in customer sales with the Pepsi Bottling Co of NY.
The boys are doing fine in school. The older boy (5th grade) is getting help from the daughter of one of the Committee members to improve his reading comprehension skills. His younger brother is learning English so rapidly that he no longer speaks his native language at home.
What is Our Continuing Commitment?
The Committee has committed to and will continue to support the family for another 12 months. We have funds that have been donated, but additional donations are always appreciated.