A refugee’s dream of home comes true after more than 20 years
Last week, a family of eight arrived at T.F. Green for the first time -- they came as refugees here to resettle. This group was awaited by family members who hadn’t seen them in years, even decades, and when they finally reunited it was a joyous moment of hugging, crying, and laughing. The airport echoed with their long overdue greetings.
This family had spent countless hours traveling to Rhode Island. They originally fled from violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997 and were forced to live in a refugee camp in Tanzania, waiting for the day they would resettle and build a new life.
Four of the family members are children, who were born in the refugee camp. They arrived with little more than a few bags of clothes and belongings -- but they were all together and ready to be introduced to their new home in Providence, Rhode Island.
Dorcas International arranged their housing and basic furnishings and, with the help of generous community members, filled the fridge, cabinets and closets with food and essential everyday necessities, including clothing, blankets, dishes, toothpaste, soap, towels, and more. The kids had toys, including a light-up bouncy ball that fascinated them, and the adults were each provided with a cellphone.
In the apartment, they were welcomed with their first warm meal in the Ocean State; it was an arrangement of culturally appropriate dishes contributed by Women’s Refugee Care. They each piled their plates high with rice, meats, helpings of a cassava leaf dish, and a familiar staple called Fufu.
Daud Yusuf, the case manager, helped the family settle into their new home and start their new beginning in the United States. With the assistance of a Swahili interpreter, Daud showed them their beds and explained some of the basic information about their living space, including how to use the appliances, turn on the lights, use the toilet, the shower, the locks, the thermostat, and the purpose of a doorbell and smoke alarm. Things that are common in the U.S. but unfamiliar and new to them. He also explained how to contact emergency help if needed.
Daud was there at the airport in the morning and was with them until sundown.
He went back the next day to do a home visit to make sure they were comfortable, and he will continue to help them acclimate to their new environment. He’ll help them enroll in English courses and job readiness training. He’ll show them how to use a bus pass and go to the grocery store.
And, most importantly, Daud is an important first impression for the family of someone living in the United States, who is welcoming, caring, and wants to see them grow and thrive here, which directly aligns with our mission. We empower families and individuals to become self-sufficient and to immerse themselves in our diverse community through innovative programs.
On the same day last week, we also welcomed another refugee family of nine, and we’re expecting a few more families after the new year. If you would like to help support newly arrived families, there are always many opportunities to give.