Refugee Resettlement


Jose: MORE THAN 500 REFUGEES ARE EXPECTED TO RESETTLE HERE IN THE VALLEY BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR. ALTHOUGH THIS IS A DECREASE FROM LAST YEAR, THE FEDERAL BUDGET AVAILABLE TO HELP THIS GROUP IS BASED ON THE NUMBER OF REFUGEES THEY RESETTLE. WHICH MEANS THAT THEY HAVE JUST A FRACTION OF THE MONEY COMING IN THAT THEY DID A FEW MONTHS AGO. WITH LIMITED RESOURCES AND A TIME FRAME OF 90 DAYS TO GET A JOB AND FIND PERMANENT HOUSING, REFUGEES FACE MANY OBSTACLES WHEN THEY ARRIVE IN THE VALLEY. PRODUCERS MARIA AND JUAN SPEAK TO TWO ORGANIZATIONS THAT HELP GIVE THESE REFUGEES A JUMP START ON THEIR ROAD TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY.

Maria: HELPING SOMEONE START A NEW LIFE CAN BE EXHAUSTING, AND REALLY FULFILLING.

Atwood: THAT’S WHO’S COMING PEOPLE WHO HAVE FLED AND BEEN LIVING IN CAMPS FOR A REALLY, REALLY LONG TIME.

Maria: AND FOR CHRISTINA ATWOOD, HELPING REFUGEES START TO REBUILD THEIR LIVES HERE IN THE U.S. IS WORTH ALL THAT SWEAT AND WORK.

Atwood: AS A COMMUNITY WE JUST REALLY NEED TO DO ALL THAT WE CAN TO SURROUND THEM AND HELP THEM IN THAT-IN THEIR JOURNEY ONCE THEY HAVE ARRIVED.

Maria: ATWOOD IS THE COFOUNDER OF GATHERING HUMANITY, AN ORGANIZATION THAT COLLECTS HOME GOODS FOR NEW REFUGEES.

Atwood: SO, THIS STARTED IN MY FRONT ROOM. I HAD ONE OF THE RESETTLEMENT AGENCIES ASK IF I WOULD BE WILLING TO DO AN APPARTMENT SET UP. SO I JOINED A FACEBOOK GROUP ON SOCIAL MEDIA, AND I HAD THIS TREMENDOUS RESPONSE FROM PEOPLE I DID NOT KNOW THAT LIVED IN MY COMMUNITY, AND MY HOUSE WAS JUST INUNDATED WITH THINGS.

Maria: THAT SIMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA POST HAS GROWN INTO TWO WAREHOUSES, FULL OF FURNITURE, KITCHEN APPLIANCES, AND CHILDREN’S TOYS, WAITING TO BE MOVED INTO A FAMILY'S NEW HOME.

Atwood: THIS IS OUR SECOND WAREHOUSE. IT'S THREE TIMES THE SIZE OF OUR PREVIOUS ONE, AND EVERY TIME I WALK IN HERE, IT KIND OF GIVES ME THE CHILLS, BECAUSE I LOOK AT HOW MUCH HAS BEEN GIVEN, AND HOW MUCH IT TAKES TO KEEP EVERYTHING ROLLING, AND IT'S ALL BECAUSE -- IT'S DONE BECAUSE KEEP CARE OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF THEIR HEART.

Maria: AND ALL OF THIS TAKES A SMALL ARMY TO MOVE OUT. ENTER A GROUP OF ASU STUDENTS WHO ALSO SAW A NEED.

Lorence: THERE’S PEOPLE THAT DON'T LIKE THEM, AND THEY BULLY THEM AT SCHOOL, SO JUST BEING A PERSON THAT CAN -- YOU KNOW, KIND OF GIVE SOMETHING POSITIVE TACK TO THEM, AND ENCOURAGE THEM.

Maria: FOREIGN EXCHANGE STUDENT, JULIA LORENCE, UNDERSTANDS THE FEAR AND LONELINESS THAT COMES WITH MOVING TO A NEW COUNTRY. SHE STARTED THE REFUGEE CLINIC AND TEAM. ALSO KNOWN AS REACT

Lorence: I WANTED TO GIVE BACK, AND THEN I SAW A CLIP OFF OF GATHERING HUMANITY, BACK THEN THEY WERE CALLED LIFTING HANDS ON TV, AND I WANTED TO HELP.

Maria: IN ADDITION TO HELPING GATHERING HUMANITY FURNISH APARTMENTS REACT ALSO HOSTS WORKSHOPS FROM EVERYTHING FROM HYGIENE, TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND EVEN DANCE CLASSES FOR KIDS.

Marostica: WE HAVE REALLY LEARNED A LOT ON HOW WE CAN SERVE AND IN OUR CAPACITY OF KIND OF TRYING TO PROVIDE -- KIND OF LIKE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES, ON HEALTH TOPICS, LIKE SUNSCREEN APPLICATION. WE DID A HAND-WASHING EVENT WITH THE KIDS, IT WAS REALLY CUTE. JUST LIKE TEACHING THE KIDS LIKE PERSONAL HYGIENE. JUST LIKE SMALL LITTLE THINGS LIKE THAT.

Maria: THIS STUDENT BIOTECH STUDENT CHANCE MAROSTICA SAYS EVEN THE SMALL GESTURES ARE NEEDED AND APPRECIATED, THINGS AS SIMPLE AS LISTENING.

Marostica: I THINK THAT -- KIND OF WITH OUR EVERY INTERACTION I’VE HAD, AN EXAMPLE IS -- WE HAVE DONE, SAY, A COMMUNITY HEALTH ASSESSMENT SURVEY. WE WANTED TO GO INTO THE COMMUNITY AND SEE HOW WE COULD HELP. AND WE SAT AROUND WITH HEADS OF THE FAMILIES, AND TALKED ABOUT RELEVANT HEALTH ISSUES THAT THEY ARE FACING.

Maria: HEALTH IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE BIGGER NEEDS THIS COMMUNITY HAS. MANY OF WHOM ARE CHOSEN TO COME HERE BECAUSE THEY ARE AT RISK.

Atwood: THE WAY THEY ARE SELECTED IS BY VULNERABILITY, SO THE PEOPLE THAT COME ARE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT GOING TO DO WELL IN A CAMP- THE MAY NOT SURVIVE. SO, IT’S VICTIMS OF RAPE AND TORTURE. YOU MIGHT HAVE A CHILD THAT HAS TYPE ONE DIABETES, YOU MIGHT BE A SINGLE GIRL WITH NO OLDER BROTHER OF DAD TO PROTECT YOU IN THE EVENT OF TRAFFICKING THAT HAPPENS IN A LOT OF THE CAMPS.

Maria: THIS NEED FOR ADVANCED HEALTH CARE IS WHAT BROUGHT MAYO CLINIC MEDICAL STUDENT, SHEILA MALEKIAN TO REACT.

Malekianl: SO OUR ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO START A STUDENT RAN CLINIC FOR REFUGEES AND OTHER UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS. BUT RIGHT NOW, SINCE THAT'S A LONG BUREAUCRATIC AND LEGAL PROCESS, WE'RE WORKING ON GETTING TO KNOW SOME OF THE REFUGEES IN THE AREA, LEARNING ABOUT THEM, AND WORKING WITH THEM.

Maria: FOR NOW BOTH GATHERING HUMANITY AND REACT WANT TO CONTINUE BUILDING BRIDGES WITHIN THE COMMUNITY AND HELPING REFUGEES BECOME OUR NEIGHBORS.

Atwood: I THINK, FOR ME, ONE OF THE BIGGEST PARTS IS JUST MAKING SURE THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT REFUGEES ARE VULNERABLE; THAT THEY DIDN'T SEEK TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES-THEY ARE PEOPLE WHO WHERE FORCED TO LEAVE THEIR HOMES. THEY ARE NOT COMING TO AMERICA FOR A BETTER LIFE, THEY FLED THEIR HOME IN FEAR. THEY HAD NO OTHER OPTION, AND SO I -- FOR ME, I THINK IT'S JUST CRITICAL FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT REFUGEES ARE NOT TO BE FEARED.

Jose: GATHERING HUMANITY AND REACT WORK WITH FOUR FEDERAL AGENCIES IN ARIZONA THAT RESETTLE REFUGEES.

More than 500 refugees are expected to resettle in the valley before the year’s end. But, many face struggles when is comes to securing housing and employment within a 90 day time frame. Learn about different organizations that help give refugees a jump start on their road to self-sufficiency.

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