July 17, 2007

18 years in a refugee camp

Posted in Uncategorized at 7: 55 pm by MK

A (the dad) spent the last 18 years of his life in a refugee camp. At age 15 he left Myanmar and moved to a Thailand refugee camp. Last week, at age 33, he moved to the U.S. I’m not sure which camp he was at or what the conditions were like, but regardless, I can’t imagine growing up in a refugee camp.

I left last night with a million questions for their USCRI case manager.

1. I couldn’t find a phone jack to plug their phone into. Who is their local phone service provider? How is this paid for?

2. When will they be issued social security numbers?

3. When will they be issued food stamps? How many per month will they be issued? (I want to help them plan their budget and shop for groceries.)

4. Which doctor are they able to visit? (Through a translator, I’ve learned the baby needs allergy medicine.)

5. When will they receive discretionary funds? (K, the mom, wishes to buy a calling card so she can call her brother in Thailand.)

I feel so inept right now in helping this family. Hopefully some answers from their case manager will provide clarification.

I’m headed over tonight with a notebook for each family member. I feel like I need something tangible to show them that English lessons are now beginning. (Oh, ages were wrong in my previous post–the baby is 1, little girl 10, and boy 11.) I’ve also made some flash cards to begin working with: Hello, my name is _____. How are you? I am fine, thank you.

Of course this all depends on what they’ll need from me today…


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