JCARR Welcomes Ninth Refugee Family

Refugees aren’t the only ones filled with high anxiety and excited anticipation, as they prepare to arrive on American shores and begin a new life. Volunteers with the JCARR (Jewish Community for Refugee Resettlement) feel that way too as a new family arrives and the stage is set for what is to come: months of working together to help refugees adapt to our community, our culture, their new apartment, and the activities that will define their new life in New Haven. 

With this in mind, the ninth family to be welcomed to our community by JCARR arrived on November 1, smiling, friendly, gracious, and grateful.

As the vans arrived from JFK International Airport, Chris George, executive director of IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) was there – and he greeted them in Arabic! Things moved quickly, as we gathered their many baggage, juggled car seats, figured out who would sit where in JCARR drivers’ cars. We drove them to their apartment in New Haven’s Science Hill, said goodnight and made plans to see them the next day.

The family—two parents and five children—sat in a semi-circle to participate in the conversation. We had a list of topics to cover, all pertaining to the practical aspects of daily life here: Calling 911 in an emergency; locking doors and windows; doing laundry; purchasing groceries; and the list of topics goes on.

Unlike some previous JCARR families, every family member participated in the conversation. Seeing the young mother gradually move from the dining room to a prominent place in the circle was moving. She showed a great sense of humor we felt a warm affection between all of them.

They are so motivated to do whatever they can for themselves: 

Take the bus to the market, get a HotSpot at the Library to access the internet; or take walks through the neighborhood. I was impressed by their tangible desire to become self-reliant. They compared some things here with how things worked when they lived in Turkey (like trash and recycling); other things were entirely new for them. One of the teenage daughters wore blue jeans and a "hoodie,” while the other wore a hijab and traditional robe.

In JCARR, we frequently say, “If you’ve known one refugee family, you’ve known one refugee family.” Although there are commonalities, each of the nine families we have assisted since 2016 is unique. The state of the world presents particular challenges to our work today. However the vision, mission, and activities of JCARR are unchanged. Guided by Jewish values, the importance of our work “welcoming the stranger” is more important than ever.

Contact Jean Silk, Coordinator, JCARR

(Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement) at jsilk@jewishnewhaven.org

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