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  • Butch Green

arrival during a pandemic

How have you been during this pandemic?

Every one of us has been affected in some way. Consider for a moment how it might affect refugees newly arrived in our country. In March with the stay-at-home order, we stopped ESL classes along with the Ready for School program. The ban on most refugees coming to the United States held true with few exceptions.

Some single men who were in detention for seven years on Manus Island were resettled to the U.S. Originally from a country in the Middle East, Australia had rejected them. They were eager to be resettled.

On the island, they were attacked by locals, had to dig their own wells for water, and had a high rate of suicide due to the trauma of their experience. We received emails regarding five different men who had arrived in Houston. Imagine coming to a new country, new culture, and not knowing anyone—all during the pandemic. Some lost luggage, one had apartment issues, and almost all had some medical issue which led to a stressful and tumultuous beginning in their new home.

Each year, Nell plants a garden. It has been our joy to share produce from the garden with our international friends. I gathered up a basket of produce, pulled together some emergency aid, and reached out to lend a hand.

The Off Ramp provided them with face masks so they could begin making their way around town on foot. As public transportation was not the best option during the virus outbreak, I took them to the nearest grocery store. Two of them had some back issues from sleeping on poor mattresses on the floor for seven years and just wanted to a good pair of tennis shoes that would help support their feet. Eventually, we were able to provide a TV and an antenna, so they could begin working on their English proficiency.

Several of them asked about church, so I mentioned some of the online options and offered Farsi/English New Testaments. I prayed with each of them and asked that God would bless them in their new life journey here in Houston. They were so appreciative. We will continue to build relationships with our new friends. Please pray for them and many other refugees as they deal with life during a pandemic.

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