Since September 2016, UUCF and the UU Congregation of Sterling (UUCS) have been co-sponsoring a refugee family from Afghanistan as part of Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of the National Capital Area Refugee Resettlement Program. The family includes a widow, Marzia, and her two children, ages 14 and 11.
Sponsorship has included helping to fund and provide food, clothing, housing, furniture, household items, transportation and other essentials to welcome and help the family become acclimated to the Northern Virginia community. Project volunteers also helped the mom with her job search and continue to support her with English language and financial sustainability training. Before the end of the project, volunteers with support the family in finding long-term affordable housing options.
January 2018: The project continues to work with Marzia in several areas – improving her English skills; gaining employment that is full-time, with higher pay and benefits; tutoring her son to improve his school performance; guiding Marzia in parental involvement with her children’s schools; helping her find and use food pantry resources; budgeting; and guiding her in managing benefits that she is eligible for. A possible goal in the coming year will be to obtain a driver’s license and car. If you are considering donating a vehicle, please keep her in mind.
Beyond volunteering in the areas listed, we also want individuals to join us in generating new project ideas, including the possibility of sponsoring another family down the road, and helping this family develop self-sufficiency. We expect our efforts with Marzia’s family to subside after 2018.
January 2018: Marzia still has a long road ahead to be self-sufficient and independent. For that reason, the Refugee Resettlement Project volunteers decided to continue providing support in the coming year. Project members are asking congregants to help by contributing donations for the family in February 2018. The goal is $5,000. This amount will allow the project to support Marzia with rental assistance through November 2018. Donate money at the Refugee Resettlement table in the Commons or mail a check to Finance Manager Gayathri Tillekeratne, UUCF, P.O. Box 130, Vienna, VA 22124. Write Refugee Resettlement on the memo line.
Wondering whether helping one refugee family will really make a difference? Here are some resources to help you decide:
- Congregation to help welcome refugee families to Northern Virginia, Sep. 18, 2016, Loudoun TImes-Mirror.
- Synagogue hosts a welcome dinner for Syrian Refugees, Jun. 4, 2016, Washington Post.
- NOVA region responds to Syrian refugee crises, May 18, 2016, Rumi Forum.
- Refugees in America: Syrian family rebuilds life in the U.S., Sep. 21, 2015, Associated Press.
- Among the lucky few: Syrian family rebuilds In America’s heartland, Oct. 20, 2015, NPR All Things Considered.
- Syrian refugees ‘typical American family’ in Indiana, Jan. 29, 2016, Voice of America.