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Haven & the Burundians

Posted by Maureen Friday, July 06, 2007

My friend Sarah Pierce who works at Catholic Charities in Kansas City, KS created a program called "Haven" which partners local churches with refugee families that CC resettles in the area. The families are generally from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. My housemate Amy Hocking is a caseworker for these refugees as well.
Through Sarah's program, a handful of refugee families have received triple the assistance they would normally simply by having a community of people coming around them to help in any way possible. Catholic Charities, in coordination with INS and the UN, provide an incredible amount of assistance to each family by providing finances, finding residence, helping them to find jobs, and walking them through American life step by step. Amy and Sarah teach families (without using a word of English) how to buy groceries, receive medical care, get the kids to school, pay bills, use a stove and refrigerator, and a million other small tasks that we all take for granted.
I have really seen this come to life in the past weeks since a group from my church decided to adopt a family coming to Kansas City from Burundi. They are seven--two parents and five sons, ages 1-12. Having known Sarah and Amy for so long, I had some idea of what an incredible and heart-wrenching task it is to integrate these families into American society, but in past days I've gotten much more of a glimpse of the immense challenges and effort it takes to make this happen.
I helped Sarah to find a place for them to live (until they are called up for public housing in KCK, which could take 6-18 months). We have been blessed by a man who will rent a 2 bedroom house in the Roeland Park area to us for $700/month with no lease! Who does that?! His uncle is a caseworker for refugee resettlement elsewhere in the nation so he had a good grasp on the need and what we were asking of him--what a miracle that we came to find him, simply by driving around looking for "For Rent" signs.
The Burundians arrive this Tuesday night at 10:30pm. We will help them in any way we can, working alongside Amy & Sarah to help them learn the ropes of a very new and different culture. I am nervous and excited.
Here is a recent article from the UN about the resettlement of Burundians, most of which are coming from refugee camps in Tanzania. The UNCHR website has vast resources and information on refugee statuses and resettlement, it is quite fascinating.
If you're from these parts and want to get to know our new Burundian friends, we'd love to have you. Or if you attend a church that would want to adopt its own refugee family, I will be happy to get you the necessary info. Please let me know. Assisting refugees is such a wonderful way to help change the world without leaving your own neighborhood, and I'm very blessed to have this opportunity.

3 comments:

Lou said...

WOW! you will have a very busy week ahead that's for sure. I love that you can do this for these people. This will be a whole new avenue for your blog reporting too! Good Work on finding the house - God's hand in everything......... I know that is more important.....but how did it go at Belle Epoque Fri night?

Maureen said...

yo mom. thanks. it went well friday--we did the tree nymph again which is cool but "nothing new". ha.

Broken Artist said...

so i was way off on the book club thing at the well when i shook your hand during the heavenly greeting times.
i am friends with aaron and those rads. so next time we will get it straight.