Late last August, I became part of a four-congregation group of volunteers who worked to resettle a refugee family of eleven; these people had lived in a camp in Tanzania for years after being forced to leave their home in the Congo.
The two children who have been in elementary school astonish us with their grasp of the English language. One of the two who attend high school had a great deal of English before coming here and he, too, has flourished. The other high school student is less motivated and the team is struggling to understand her. The three preschoolers will be in kindergarten in September, so there is every reason to believe that they, too, will do well.
The parents are working full-time at a meat packing plant. The work is hard but they are paid well, have health benefits, and even have their own retirement accounts. The other two young adult women are working as hotel maids. So much has been accomplished in these ten months, and yet there is still so much more that they need to learn, to master, to accomplish.
The resettlement team leaders have a weekly conference call and the rest of us receive weekly news bulletins. The most recent bulletin contained a brief report that I found endearing and reminded me that our adult refugees are still somewhat childlike because of the narrowness of their life experience.
"I had fun teaching F and J [the hotel workers] how to mail a letter. (There is a box . . . across from park area.) They giggled as the letter disappeared.”