Update on the Almohammad Family by Susie Orum
The Almohammads are doing well. Their immigration and social security paperwork is finally complete. Now they are waiting on approval for local medical and other services. Once the medical services begin, the girls can get their physicals and inoculations needed for enrolling in school. During this waiting period, Sandra Borinstein and Rhoda Silverberg volunteered to give a very special gift to the family. They are teaching English to Athari (11) and Fatima (10). Fazwah, the mother, joined the lessons on the first day. Sandra and Rhoda both have extensive backgrounds in education. They are trained in the Wilson Language Program, which introduces letters and sounds in a multisensory approach. It is exciting to watch Athari, Fatima and Fawzah mastering the sounds and letters and beginning to form simple words. English Day at the Almohammads is filled with joy, hard work and a sense of purpose. The lessons always have a dose of fun in them. Sandra taught the song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes with all the gestures. It is a big hit with the family. Whenever any of us visit, we are asked to sing it with them.
Learning English is so important that Fawzah makes a short video of each lesson to share with their family in Jordan. Last week Rhoda brought her six-year-old grandson Jack, who took his role as assistant teacher quite seriously. The girls enjoyed having Jack help them. After each visit, Sandra and Rhoda have great stories about their visit. The one constant in their reports is how touched they are by the Almohammads’ warm hospitality and kindness to them.
Occasionally I tag along to play with the younger girls so Fawzah can concentrate on the lesson. While I’m playing with Ghofran and Ritaj, I watch the learning going on in the dining room. It reminds me of something Picasso said. “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Sandra and Rhoda found their gift was teaching language. Now they are able to find new purpose by giving it to the Almohammads.
The Almohammad family arriving in Austin
After much uncertainty, our friends from Syria finally arrived safely in the US. A huge thank you is owed to all who donated money and items, to those who welcome the Almohammads at the airport and to everyone who prepared their home. We are all blessed by the generosity and the outpouring of love and support that this family received, often at very short notice, from everyone who helped
Refugee resettlement and the Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church has supported refugee resettlement for over 75 years. Today Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), working in partnership with offices and groups within the church as well as with governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and a network of 30 affiliate offices in 26 dioceses, assures safe passage and provides vital services for thousands of refugee families upon their arrival in America. In Austin, EMM works with Refugee Services of Texas.
St. Michael’s is one of the many Episcopal parishes in Austin that has answered the Biblical injunction to welcome the stranger by helping refugees make their new home in a strange land. (Hebrews 13:2 and Matthew 25:35)
Welcome teams of parishioners furnish and equip an apartment, stock the refrigerator and pantry, meet the family at the airport, provide a welcoming hot meal, help family get social security cards, transport them to get physicals and inoculations, help them enroll children in school and English classes, and generally introduce the family to the city and a new culture. RST finds the apartment, helps with job searches, assists with food stamp application, and provides a wide range of orientation activities.
Self-sufficiency within three to four months is the goal for each family. A daunting prospect — certainly — but it has proved doable. After five years of residency, refugees are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after rigorous study and successful completion of U.S. citizenship examinations.
To learn more about refugee resettlement, click on the following links: