Drawing by daughter, age 10
Since welcoming our first refugee family in 2016, JCARR volunteers have learned: to make no assumptions, have no preconceived notions, and expect the unexpected. Our first family is a case in point. Where we expected a mother, a father, and children, we received three siblings in their 20s; shortly after that, the wife and son of the eldest brother arrived. They spoke Kinyarwanda, a language we’d never heard of!
Fast forward six years. JCARR has helped resettle families from Syria, Iraq, Angola, and The Democratic Republic of Congo. The evacuation of Afghan allies when the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan collapsed in August 2021 increased the number of refugees needing assistance. Between August 14 and 25, the US evacuated about 82,300 people from Hamid Karzai International Airport. JCARR prepared to assist IRIS, the major refugee resettlement organization in New Haven, in the resettlement of Afghans in Connecticut.
In February 2022, IRIS asked JCARR to co-sponsor an Afghan family already in the US. The case included a single mother, her three very young daughters, and her 14-year-old nephew whose father had been killed by the Taliban. Unfortunately, her husband, who had worked for many years with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, fearing for his family’s safety, had fled and could not return to Afghanistan to evacuate with his family. JCARR leaders unanimously agreed to assist this family.
For the next 15 months, JCARR volunteers worked intensely to help the young mother adapt to heading a household while learning English and adapting to a new country and culture. She had no previous formal education and had always depended on her husband or another man to carry out the responsibilities of family management other than child care. The father was in daily contact with the family and JCARR leaders by WhatsApp. Yet, there is only so much you can do through the Internet
JCARR procured pro bono legal assistance for the woman and helped her to apply for asylum. She and her daughters spent all day in the court in New York for her asylum hearing last fall. The legal team took on the husband’s case separately. JCARR leaders were overjoyed to get a call on May 27 that Mom and the daughters had been granted asylum. That joy, though, was nothing to compare to our feelings when a week later, we got WhatsApp video calls from the father --- with his daughters in the background – he’s here! Dad’s story leaves one open-mouthed with disbelief. He is brave, wise, resourceful, and unexpectedly funny! His wisdom, good humor, and determination to be reunited with his family sustained him during the long separation. Eventually, a multi-legged flight brought him from overseas to his final destination - FAMILY.
JCARR anticipates that because his English Is so good, he will find employment relatively easily when he is allowed to start working in six months. JCARR is committed to helping sustain this family even as we plan for and look forward to their ability to function independently. At the same time, we are preparing to welcome Family 9, presumably after the High Holy Days in September.
Your support, as always, is greatly appreciated.
Your contributions sustain JCARR’S mission. To donate to JCARR, go online to https://jewishnewhaven.org/