Welcoming The Stranger
Our 120-person and growing Syrian Refugee Resettlement Team has welcomed two Syrian refugee families. We have various committees working on the many pieces to be successful with the help and guidance of our partner, Jewish Family Services of Metrowest. These tasks include a housing search, fundraising, household setup, accessing government services, integrating the family to our communities and with US customs. Save A Life, Save A World.
Fall 2018 Update
We have had an extraordinary 3 years. Year one was dedicated to advocacy, learning about the needs of Syrian refugees world-wide and the possibilities of directly assisting and resettling families here. Jewish Family Services (JFS) Metrowest worked through HIAS to bring 8 families, supported by several area congregations to this area. With a matching grant from Ed and Barbara Shapiro and strong encouragement from Rabbi Sisenwine, we raised sufficient funds to commit to assisting two families. In addition, dozens of generous congregants offered numerous donations of furniture, household goods, clothing, gift cards, computers, specific services, etc. And finally, in November 2016, we welcomed the Hayani family - parents and with 4 young children. Four months later, after several delays, the Aljelous family, with 3 small children (one only a month old) arrived. And then this past March, the the Aljelous greeted with jubilation a baby - a new United States citizen
With the goals of safety, stabilization and economic self-sufficiency, JFS and 12 amazing core family volunteers plus 11 family support volunteers provided nurturing, job preparedness, English language acquisition, transportation for medical and government services as well as shopping, navigating schools and other educational programs, and understanding of expenses and budgets. Cultural differences and language barriers melted away, and deep connections have been made. Other volunteers have assisted with researching housing and job opportunities. Some have also provided assistance to families sponsored by other congregations.
We have been impressed with the love, warmth and dedication the parents show their children. Desiring stability for their children to remain in the same school and for them all to continue to work with JFS and TBE volunteers, the families wish to remain in Framingham. In less than 2 years, they have demonstrated resilience and strength and an eagerness to be independent. The Hayanis are thrilled with their new rental home, and the Aljelous will move in January to a house, offered at cost, by a local church. Both families appreciate being close with other newly settled Syrian families. Another milestone was reached when the adults obtained their driver’s licenses, allowing for greater independence and mobility. Cars were donated by a non-TBE member.
All the children have thrived. Some have attended day camp. One, too young for pre-school, attended an early intervention program. Both fathers have acquired greater work experience and have expanded their job hours, while the mothers are considering work options and learning to drive!
For now, we continue to provide financial support for specific needs including pre-school this year. Many of the volunteers remain connected. In addition, the team has come full circle as it focuses on immigration advocacy and developing ways to assist other individuals and families seeking asylum and a better life in the US.
We are enormously grateful to everyone who has shared in this successful and sacred journey; it has been gratifying to each of us, and indeed, it has allowed new beginnings to 2 families who were escaping strife and uncertainty.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Martin Niemoller
We have a google group! If you want to recieve updates on our effort's accomplishments and needs, please contact Sandy Aronson.
Our Committes and Leaders:
Fundraising - Michael Gilman
Housing Search - Debbie Gotbetter
Household Setup - Emily Hoadley
Accessing Services - Eva Sartori
Family and Children Integration - Laura Gilman
Fall 2017 Update
Many of you have asked about how the Syrian refugee families are progressing. We are very encouraged and pleased with how each is doing. Both fathers in the families are employed. One is a successful tailor who also is doing private tailoring (thank you to those who have donated fabric) and landscaping when not at his place of employment. The other father is working full-time at a grocery market, stocking shelves. The adults in both families are working very hard to acquire English language skills. During the summer they have had individual tutors from both TBE and JFS (Jewish Family Service), and in the fall they will resume their community ESL (English as a Second Language) programs.
The age appropriate children attended summer camp for 3 weeks, enjoying soccer and swimming. They are excited to be in their 2nd grade, 3rd grade and pre-school classes, and the older ones are even playing games in English. One of the children who is too young for preschool participates in an early intervention program.
JFS is working with the families to establish goals and look at their budgets.
Our amazing volunteers have also stepped in to help other newly arrived Syrian refugees including the family which arrived in July and is supported by Temple Sinai in Brookline.
We are impressed with how loving, calm and steady the parents are with their children, with how they have created warm and comfortable homes (thank you to the generosity of many congregants) and with the connections the families have made with other Syrian families. They are, of course, quite concerned about the devastation in Syria and the harm that could come to their families who remain. However, they are grateful to feel safe and are able to focus on progress.
None of this would have been possible without the daily hard work of our volunteers, and without the support of our community. We are grateful for your support in this incredible and sacred act of Tikkun Olam.
TBE members and Syrian Refugee Resettlement Team Leaders, Ed and Barbara Shapiro Recieve the 3rd Annual Sharp Rescuer Prize
The Sharp Rescuer Prize promotes humanitarian work in the example of Waitstill and Martha Sharp and seeks to empower rescuers today who sacrifice for others. This social justice award is awarded annually in honor of the Sharps and their commitment to the Unitarian Universalist core values of justice and compassion. The Sharp Rescuer Prize supports people like the Sharps and Marina Goldman (the award's first recipient) and the associated organizations in carrying out their selfless work.