Recently, a Congolese family who had lived for years in the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Tanzania was resettled in the San Diego area. Imagine what it must be like – nine members in this family, English is not their language, and they are placed in a two-bedroom apartment in City Heights which costs $ 4,000 a month! Three of the children are enrolled in school, but the 18- and 21-year-old young adults have aged out of the public school system and must begin to learn English and work on their GED while getting jobs to support the family. Their disabled aunt must be carried upstairs to the only bathroom several times a day. The obstacles facing them must feel insurmountable.
Gratefully, with God’s and your help, RefugeeNet has been giving refugee families such as these a hand-up for nearly 25 years. Started as a ministry of St. Luke’s in the late 90s responding to the arrival of Lost Boys from Sudan, RefugeeNet is now a nonprofit institution of the diocese serving refugees from east Africa, Syria, Afghanistan, and Myanmar.
After worship last Sunday at St. Luke’s, this new family met with a RefugeeNet case worker and two congregants who are willing to help the family search for a bigger and cheaper apartment. We will invite their children to participate in RefugeeNet’s weekly tutoring program and set aside fresh produce and canned food for them at our weekly food distribution (which feeds about 200 families a week!)
Katherine Bom, our Executive Director, is a former refugee from South Sudan who arrived in San Diego as a teenager in the late 90s. She knows personally what it’s like to struggle as a new American.
“The first years were really hard for our family, but knowing that there were people from many backgrounds who cared about us and wanted us to be healthy and succeed made a big difference. It felt like there was hope,” said Bom.
You are invited to join Bishop Susan at RefugeeNet’s annual fundraising Gala at St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday, March 18 at 6 pm. You can register by clicking here. Gifts from generous friends make up the vast majority of our budget, and our gala is a fun and moving way to meet fellow donors and hear first-hand stories about the life-changing impact of our work.
We also invite you to serve as a RefugeeNet liaison to your church, sharing our upcoming activities and needs with your community of faith. For more information or to serve in this way, please contact Chris Winger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And we’d love for you to subscribe to our delicious Mama Africa dinner subscription – enjoy African comfort food once or twice a month and enable former refugee women to earn more money for their families! (Click here for more info.) Or have them cater your next gathering!
RefugeeNet provides hope, sometimes in short supply, in this new environment for our newest Americans. Your prayer, time, and resources help to embody this hope that we all yearn for. With God’s help, it will be born anew during this Advent season before Christmas!
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