Submitted by Lori Chadwick.
The Haddam area Refugee Resettlement Project (HaRRP) is underway. This is what it is all about.
The Higganum Congregational Church and The First Congregational Church of Haddam have contacted IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service) and are in the process of completing the application to become a co-sponsor to resettle a refugee family in Haddam.
Refugee families who arrive from overseas come to the U.S. with virtually no material possessions. They have lost homes, friends, family, country, culture and jobs. Most do not speak any English. They have no income, and many are victims of trauma, with physical or mental health needs. As great as their initial needs are, their potential to enrich our community is even greater.
IRIS of New Haven is one of two agencies in Connecticut, and about 200 across the US, which empowers refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated into their new communities.
In co-sponsorship, IRIS delegates most resettlement tasks to the co-sponsor. We will secure affordable housing, collect furniture and other household items, and help refugees access public benefits (for eligible families). Co-sponsors also enroll children in school, facilitate job searches and perform other necessary tasks.
While Afghan and Ukrainian refugees have been top of mind recently, the origin of the family we support may be one of many other countries. Because we do not know the origin of the refugees until just before they arrive, we prepare for them by learning about and understanding a number of different cultures that could be the former home of those we help.
It may be hard to imagine how devastated we would be if our own lives were torn apart so drastically that we had to flee with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We can feel fear or discomfort with people from other cultures whose ways are different from our own. However, HaRRP wants to find ways our community can take direct action so that we in the Haddam area will know our hearts are stronger than our fears.
Many churches, synagogues, mosques and non-faith-based community groups have already answered the call to help refugees resettle throughout Connecticut. In fact, several groups in the area have welcomed families in recent months including Portland Refugee Resettlement Group, The Valley Stands Up, and groups from Ledyard and Lyme, to name a few. The need continues to grow, and we are ready to do our part in the effort.
HaRRP is hosting informational meetings for churches in the area on May 3, 2022 at the First Congregational Church in Haddam, and for all other community organizations on May 25, 2022 at Brainerd Memorial Library. There we will share more information about IRIS and the activities underway in Connecticut.
You can add your name to the list of volunteers, get as involved as your time allows and/or support the effort with your donations.
You can make a donation, by check made out to: HaRRP (Haddam area Refugee Resettlement Project) and mail it to 23 Parsonage Rd. Higganum, CT 06441, or online at https://www.haddamchurch.org/donate/ use the dropdown arrow to select Refugee Resettlement Project.
Please watch for updates and progress on this project.
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