November 21, 2014

Refugee Resettlement

After waiting more than 20 years to follow a dream, I signed up as a volunteer with a local service agency to work with their refugee resettlement program!!  And so after an interview, a background check, another meeting, and weeks of waiting, yesterday it happened.  I met my assigned family!

Walking into their apartment and meeting them for the first time was admittedly a bit awkward for all of us, but it didn't take long to get over that. I found them to be a wonderful couple, so happy to be here.  For their own safety it would not be wise to post pictures or even name their county. But they left "a place with no dreams," a place plagued with bombings, shootings, kidnappings, changing political factions, and death threats. They could only say goodbye to their family and a few of their very closest friends, because if word got out they left for America, their remaining family members would be in danger.

They arrived 3 weeks ago with 7 bags, including food and a few pans, as they were worried they might not be able to find what they needed here.

The case worker advised that it is customary to be served tea and food and that I should expect it. This is a good thing, no?! Imagine my confusion when I was greeted with smiles, open hearts, a giant glass of orange drink, and chocolate fudge cake at 10:30 in the morning. 90 minutes later I was getting ready to leave when they implored me to stay - the plan was for lunch! "Lunch" meant a "simple" spread complete with halal roasted chicken; a rice dish; a vegetable dish with shredded beets, lemon, lettuce, carrots, and an olive; homemade chicken soup; a baguette of bread each; and no drink. Homemade pickled beets were brought out after the meal. The dishes and portions were handed to me and I watched carefully, wondering if I was going to have to eat the rice with my fingers. But - glory hallelujah! - spoons were given out! There was no serving knife or utensil for the chicken, however, and my host tore off a piece with his fingers and handed it to me.

They thought I hardly ate anything, but actually I was so full I couldn't swallow another bite.  I ate twice as much as I normally would so as not to offend them.  I couldn't eat the rest of the day.  Or night.  And I wasn't eager to jump into breakfast.

I am returning to their apartment tomorrow morning to meet the children, who were in school when I came yesterday.  And I am to stay for lunch! (Perhaps I should stop eating now?!)

New friends, new opportunities, goodwill, spoons...treasures, indeed.

5 comments:

  1. Love it! This is something I have always been so interested in. When the timing is right I'll come to you for more info.

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    1. This is definitely a family-friendly adventure, something your girls would remember for a lifetime. They are placing 10 families a month and I am the 3rd volunteer, so there is a great need! Think about it, and call me any time. =) Hi to everyone!

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  2. Awesome! It's a wonderful thing to help others in need. Sure sounds like an Arab spread to me. When I came here, I found that they used spoons to eat every single meal. Pickled vegetables are one of my favorite things. You would think after 20 years here I would know how to make them. I should try one of these days but so easy to just buy. There are times when I've eaten lunch and I know that I won't need to eat again for quite awhile. :) Have a wonderful weekend. Tammy

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    1. I've never been so thankful for a spoon!! And the pickled vegetables were good! They had a jar of beets pickling on the counter, and it was fizzing/popping/singing the whole time. Perhaps I've just never listened before? It was strange to me but they were all smiles about it. =)

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  3. Yeah for my Nance!

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