Just days before their arrival, Marie's Movers moved everything from the previous family's apartment to the new apartment. Javid, part of a family we co-sponsored a couple years ago was one of the movers, moving everything into the apartment above his!
Then a team of New Start Ministry CT volunteers set up and arranged and built and fixed and stocked the entire apartment so it would be ready for the Bahrami family to move in.
They arrived on an incredibly rainy Tuesday evening. They arrived in Connecticut, when they thought they were meant to arrive in California.
They were exhausted and hungry and not really sure what was going on. Nevertheless, they were greeted by a group of volunteers who were nearly as eager as they were to get them home so they could eat and rest. After all, a meal prepared by Hajer, an Afghan refugee New Start co-sponsored a couple years ago, was awaiting them. The volunteers familiarized the family with their apartment, addressing mostly safety issues, and then left them to eat and sleep.
The following three days were a whirlwind of activity: a session going through just about everything in the apartment, as well as the apartment complex facilities; an afternoon of explanations and paperwork; a grocery shopping trip sponsored by Tops Market in Southington, CT; more paperwork and a trip to the Social Security Administration. And there's still plenty ahead of them: applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, state health insurance, and cash assistance; meetings with the Legal team and Transportation team; enrolling the children in school and the adults in ESL classes; at home ESL tutoring; Acculturation visits and outings; a day of thrift shopping; and so much more.
All of these things are a mixture of stress and joy for the family - and for the volunteers. And some experiences that could have gone badly if in other hands, are handled by just the right person. For example, one of our volunteers posted the following on their social media page:
"Today I took an Afghan SIV family of four to the Social Security Administration in Waterbury to apply for Social Security cards. We waited for forty-five minutes. I was not upset. It was busy and working through social security paperwork takes time. It was finally our time and my heart leapt as I realized who was going to handle our family's applications. I don't know his name. I do know that he's processed the paperwork for another family we've resettled. I do know that he served in Afghanistan and is deeply thankful that these people are here and safe. And I do know that he went above and beyond to make sure everything was going to go as smoothly as possible when we discovered a few surprises along the way."
We don't know what the next days, weeks, and months will hold for the Bahrami family or for our team of volunteers, but we live in hope that we can help the Bahrami family meet their goals and prosper in their new country.