Refugee Update

Dear church family,

This seems like a good time to give you an update on the refugee situation in our neighborhood. The population has changed dramatically in the last few months! Almost all of the Burundian families have moved to public housing located near Stanley and Old Troy Pike. Catholic Social Services has resettled scores of single young men and several families from Eritrea and Ethiopia in their vacated homes. There are also many young men from Sudan, and a few Congolese single men and families.

Eritrea is a small country that shares a border with Ethiopia and Sudan. Its citizens suffer under a cruel dictatorship and are facing drought and famine as well as extreme human rights violations. Boys and girls are drafted into the Eritrean army, and forced to serve, without pay, indefinitely – often for 10 or more years. During military service, they are unable to help their families survive. Please take a moment to read the following story – it’s the story of every young Eritrean man in our neighborhood:

The guys have told me that they cannot call home to let their parents know they are safe because calls are monitored, and since they are considered defectors, relatives will be fined $50,000 (Eritrean) or face imprisonment and torture. They are desperate to work so they can send money home to help their families buy food, but they can’t find jobs.

Our neighborhood is filled with young men, new to the U.S.A., who are lonely, fearful about the future, and who spend their days with nothing to do. They are in need of our friendship and support. The refugee ministry committee hopes to plan events designed to help our parish get to know our new neighbors, and befriend them.

There are several common requests among the men: bicycles and TVs. They enjoy watching sports, and TV will not only help alleviate the boredom, but it will also help with English.

Please note that our food pantry will need to be revised to accommodate the countries represented in our neighborhood. Beans and rice, a staple for East Africans, are unfamiliar to Eritreans and Ethiopians. Below is a list of suggested items for our pantry:

Dried split peas, red lentils, chickpeas, and fava beans. Honey, flax seed, cayenne pepper, paprika, ginger, salt, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, tomato paste, cooking oil, white flour, rice flour. Chicken and beef stock. Personal hygiene and household items: bath soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Dish soap, laundry detergent. As always, please avoid prepared foods, mixes, and products containing pork.

For further information or questions, please contact Barb Harvey.

Thank you!


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