REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT IN CHICAGO

2014 - 2015

Ibrahim FamilyThis year, Hallie Metzger, YF&ES ’75, is a leader in mentoring our co-sponsored family of seven Muslim refugees, the Ibrahims, originally from Burma. In November, Hallie and her Urdu-speaking friend, Armeen, familiarized the family with local grocery shopping options. Since the family observes strict halal rules for the preparation of meat and wanted Southeast Asian foods, Hallie and Armeen took the father and oldest son to shops on Devon Street. Armeen introduced them to grocers and butchers, and then treated everyone to a sugar cane drink. As part of the trip, Hallie took pictures of the various bus stops so the family members would know where to go to purchase things without assistance.

Ibrahim shopping tripIn December, Hallie and her husband, Bill, tackled the problem of the family’s non-functioning analog tube TV, which will be instrumental in the development of the family’s English skills via programs and DVDs. Bill, after trying different cable systems and analog-to-digital converters without success, decided the best solution was a new digital TV/indoor antenna combination. In January, Hallie, Bill and Robbin Schoewe, YC ’85, jointly purchased a new set-up which Bill installed. Post installation, Karl Medina, (2014) took two family members to the neighborhood library to check out DVDs and familiarize them with free library services.

The Ibrahim family is becoming more comfortable with English and today Hallie and Bill can have simple conversations with them. Whenever they visit the apartment, the family’s mom sets out hot, sweet coffee and biscuits as everyone gathers round. And no matter how much is understood, the family’s delight and welcome is clear.


2013 - 2014

Gu FamilyNovember, 2013

Our third sponsored refugee family arrived in the United States the week before Thanksgiving. They are the Gu family who were formerly living in a camp in Thailand, after fleeing many years earlier from Burma, their homeland. The family consists of the parents and two girls, ages 4 and 8. They all seem eager to learn and intelligent, lively and sweet.

A tremendous thanks to about 30 Chicago area alumni who responded to the call for service and contributed to settlement expenses for this family. We raised approximately $1500 to use towards properly furnishing and stocking the apartment and providing initial food supplies for the family upon arrival. We also took in numerous donations of used clothing and some used furnishings.

About a week and a half prior to the arrival of the Gu’s, a volunteer group of Yalies and their children worked diligently on a stormy day, the day Soldier Field was evacuated and the Bears Game was delayed, to prepare a cozy, cheerful apartment for the family. Alongside two hired moving men, the group transported furniture and household items up three flights of outdoor stairs. They also conducted a thorough cleaning of the place and arranged, decorated and stocked cupboards, closets and dressers with dishes, toiletries, coats, food and clothing.

Four alumni have formed a team to tutor the children and mentor the parents on a weekly basis for the next 6 months or more, if needed. Mentoring involves taking the family on “acclimation field trips” to public parks, libraries, grocery stores, etc. This is a great, active way to develop their English fluency and helps them develop confidence outside of their apartment and RefugeeOne offices. We will be teaching them basic life skills, like defrosting and properly storing food, riding the train, rebooting a computer, etc. Furthermore we will assume an advisory role, alongside and coordinated with RefugeeOne. Tutoring the children involves practicing English reading and writing and helping them with all subjects as their English skills develop. We will help with proper, timely communication with the schools too. 

August 2014

The children love school and both parents have full time jobs at Tyson Chicken as food handlers. The parents work two separate shifts so they can share the care of their precious daughters. The family has developed a good support network with some other Burmese neighbors. There is one difficulty in their new life in that the father is facing medical issues that need continued attention.

Thank you to all donors and working volunteers that made their new life possible and the transition easier!


Click the links below to read about the Yale Club of Chicago’s previous Refugee resettlement successes. 

Asukulus - Dem Rep of Congo - April 2012

Ahmed Husseins - Burma - December 2012

ABOUT OUR ACTIVITIES

Each year since April 2012, Yale Club of Chicago alumni have provided services to refugee families arriving in Chicago. Working with RefugeeOne, our volunteers help make the transition to their new, foreign life in the USA possible, enabling and more comfortable.

We have collected and stored furniture; we moved the furniture into the apartments and prepared the apartments with clothing, shoes, school supplies, kitchenware, bedding and artwork; we stocked the pantries and refrigerators with groceries and arrival meals; we welcomed the families at the airport; and we have tutored and mentored via “acclimation field trips”. We plan to furnish one apartment per year and hope to mentor each admitted family throughout their first year in the USA.

RefugeeOne has been a wonderful partner organization. We ran Yale Global Day of Service events with them for the last 4 years. They have been helpful in giving us advice on mentoring needs and have been a reliable resource when we have had concerns or questions. We hope to continue working in partnership indefinitely, as long as there is local club energy, to improve the lives of refugees.

The Yale Refugee Project in Chicago continues to be a heartwarming story in the making. It is amazing and energizing to see human compassion, empathy, commitment and sacrifice on the part of our alumni volunteers and equally so to see the spirit, drive, growth and progress of our welcomed family from across the world.

If you would like to get involved, here are Ways To Volunteer.

 
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