The Resettlement branch of Refugee Action directly sponsors newly arrived families with refugee status in the Lehigh Valley. Bethany Christian Services connects Refugee Action to the families, and the two organizations work together to help them become independent in the United States. Refugee Action is a member of Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR), an initiative that calls on every college and university around the world to host a refugee family on their campus grounds and to assist them in resettlement. It is a flexible movement that encourages institutions to partner with local resettlement agencies to carry out their own initiative. Dr. Diya Abdo, a professor of English and Creative Writing at Guilford College started this movement and visited Lafayette in April 2017 to talk to us about ECAR and how other schools can get involved. Currently, Refugee Action sponsors 3 families, and helps many other new arrivals to secure furniture and translation services. There are 3 major goals of our resettlement work:
- Guide newly arriving families to self-sufficiency within 5-8 months
- Provide our families with a network of friends, mentors, and community members
- Support our families in setting and achieving their own personal goals
Resettlement services are further categorized for the families that Refugee Action sponsors:
- Government and Medical Paperwork: Refugee Action members help refugees through all of the necessary government and medical paperwork that must be completed upon their arrival. It is ensured that families receive all medical care that they need and government benefits that they are entitled to.
- Finance and Employment: Refugee action helps families assess their financial situation, develop financial literacy in the American economy, find employment for adults based on skills, and plan a budget on the path to financial stability.
- Education: Refugee Action connects families with local English as a Second Language services, enrolls school-aged children in public schools, and tutors family members many times a week to ensure that they develop English skills and feel at home in their new country.
- Accommodations: Refugee Action ensures that families’ social and religious needs are met by involving them in activities that they enjoy and that suit their culture, as well as providing cultural orientation to all families.
- Housing: Refugee Action provides temporary housing for its families via Lafayette College. This housing serves as a bridge between the families’ arrival and their ability to provide for themselves economically and afford adequate housing. Refugee Action also helps families through the process of securing their own housing after they become financially stable, and helps them to move.
- Furniture: Refugee Action holds continuous furniture drives during which generous community members donate quality furniture for use by the families. Each family keeps the furniture that is placed in their house upon arrival, even after they move.
- Transportation: Refugee Action members and Community Partners aid families by driving them to appointments, jobs, stores, and activities. Additionally, they educate families on local transportation services and develop a path to obtaining a driver’s license if desired.