A Long Journey Home

Published Aug 18, 2021
By: Diane Behm

On a cold day in January, a family of 26 people — four brothers and their cousin, along with their wives and children — arrived at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. They were forced to flee Syria and live in a Jordanian camp for four years before being allowed to enter the United States. They were referred to LSS for Refugee Resettlement Services and since then have created new lives…new lives built on the foundation made possible by you.

As part of our core services, the LSS Refugee team greeted the family at the airport, assisted with necessary paperwork and provided transportation to their new residences – four apartments in the same building found and secured by LSS! That first evening in their new home, our team also arranged for the families to enjoy a meal comprised of recipes from their homeland, but this is only the beginning.

For the next 30-90 days, through the guidance of the LSS team, the families completed applications for benefits, health care, school enrollment, and more. They were introduced to community resources, church groups, educational courses including English as a Second Language (ESL), employment workshops and job referral services.

Although the period for these core services has ended, the families may continue to receive guidance, information and referrals to other resources from LSS for up to 5 years.

Hutham, a previous client of the LSS Refugee Resettlement program and now a staff member explains, “Clients call at different times with different concerns, but we can almost count on receiving a call about one year after our clients arrive, when they are applying for their green cards. They want to be sure everything is completed correctly and that they aren’t missing any steps in the process.”

Hutham can relate to the bravery and determination it takes to leave a homeland that is too dangerous to live in, and step into the unknown with the hope and resolve to build a new life. Employing people who have walked in our client’s shoes is an important effort by LSS to build trust while helping refugee families feel at home in the states where we serve.

Within six months of their arrival, all four brothers and their cousin were employed, three of whom now own their own businesses in the tiling/flooring and auto glass industries. They are also applying for United States citizenship.

Like this very special family, thousands of individuals, children and families throughout our service area have the optimism, courage and grit to make the changes necessary for their new start. Some are battling addiction, others struggle to heal from past trauma, still others are experiencing homelessness or are in need of a forever family. Let them know they are not alone. Support their journey to independence, health and well-being by making your gift to LSS today!

We are so grateful for your compassion and partnership. Through your support of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS) you do more than simply welcome the stranger, you provide a runway for their future achievement.

Donate to Refugee Resettlement Now

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