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West Chester Area Refugee Resettlement Project: Update after 7 months

by Taun P Chapman last modified Feb 22, 2017 06:07 PM

 “Our” family that fled violence in the Congo over 17 years ago has been here for SEVEN MONTHS! We are SO proud of what they have accomplished, and of what we who support them have been able to contribute.

The family: not only are all five children successfully in school, but 3 have received honors of one kind or another. This is starting from 0 English last August, mind you! And the parents are regulars in attendance at English as a Second Language classes, where they are known for diligence. The father has part time employment in two companies; the mother and oldest daughter have part time employment in one. They need more than this, but this is a good start toward economic self-sufficiency for the family.

Help with homework, English practice, and transportation to activities is still needed.

As a footnote to family employment, know this: the part time employment of the mother and big sister is within walking distance of their home, but it often is late at night that they end work. So the 16 year-old twin boys meet them as the work ends and walk them home. The sad reality for these American times is that prior to this responsibility both boys received training in how to conduct themselves as young black males, how to react if confronted by police (e.g. NEVER run, keep hands out of pockets).

The WCARRP support: Between mid-August and mid-January volunteers from the West Chester Area Refugee Resettlement Project contributed over 775 hours of assistance – much of this in tutoring and homework help, much in driving to and from medical and administrative appointments, and some in taking family members to holiday activities such as West Chester’s Christmas parade. The recorded miles driven to medical appointments, grocery shopping, English classes, and other activities totaled 3825 for this period. These and other recorded measured accomplishments allowed the family to benefit from a federal matching grant program that offers funds toward self-sufficiency acquisition for refugees who have a support group that provides documented, quantified support for their efforts. Thanks to all the volunteers that not only donated time but also spent the effort to record time and mileage participation in a way that enabled the receipt of these matching funds!!!

This time last year the Congolese family of 7 was still in a refugee camp in Tanzania, living in a tent with no knowledge of whether or when they would be certified to become refugees to a different country. They had only rural experiences and skills, and had never had electricity or running water in their dwelling. What a distance they have come!! We who have been a part of their transition celebrate with them and look forward to coming new possibilities—such as participation by several children in Club Soccer this spring.

If you can volunteer some of your time, please be in touch with Susan Brodesser, overall coordinator of WCARRP, who will connect you with the appropriate scheduler/coordinator. Her contact information is be_still @; 610-399-0823

A previous update is here

West Chester Area Refugee Resettlement Project

Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program

PA Department of Human Service