It's official! We are ready to host a refugee family!
The West Chester Refugee Resettlement Project now has participants representing seven Quaker meetings (Birmingham, Downingtown, West Chester, Westtown, Willistown, Newark, and Wilmington), the Islamic Society of Chester County, the Unitarian Congregation of West Chester, and three churches (two Methodist, one Presbyterian), as well as interested non-religiously-affiliated individuals. An active Refugee Support Team has been developed, with subgroups responsible for Housing & Material Goods, Employment, Transportation, Education & ESL, and Fundraising & Finance.
Having met its first financial goal, the group has notified Lutheran Children and Family Services of its readiness to officially commit to co-sponsorship. Information about two families, both from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been received, though it is not guaranteed that either one will be the family who comes to West Chester. One family consists of a single mother with four children, aged 2 to 10, and the other consists of a couple with four teenaged daughters, and, possibly, an adult son and his fiancée, who may join the family at some point.
Finding affordable housing is proving difficult. Because the family will ultimately have to maintain rent payment on their own the housing subgroup has been searching for options that cost under $1100 per month. Suggestions/leads for low cost housing are very welcome. The same is true for suggestions/leads for employment that does not require English or specialized skills.
Three local women who speak Swahili, one of whom is a native of the DRC, have enthusiastically offered their assistance, both with translation and with education about how to interact with the family in a culturally appropriate manner. David Leonard, of Birmingham Meeting, is teaching participants some rudimentary Swahili in the hope that they can be as welcoming as possible.