Let’s start with some good news! In the last year LexRAP three asylum seekers hosted in LexRAP homes have been granted asylum! They are from Uganda, Iran, and Rwanda. All have jobs and are delighted to now see that they have a future in the U.S.
Saturday, June 20, is World Refugee Day. It’s a day to stop and think about the refugee crisis that remains largely out of sight for those of us in the U.S. More than 70 million people across the world have fled their homes because of violence and/or persecution. These people must make extraordinary efforts to just survive. From South Sudan to Uganda, Myanmar to Bangladesh, South and Central America, Syria to Jordan, they have endured long, dangerous and difficult journeys. Currently over 20 million refugees have applied to the UN to be resettled in a new country. Less than 1% will be resettled, and the rest will live in refugee camps and countries where they will continue to have NO legal status.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) keeps these statistics and helps these people. It was created in 1950 during the aftermath of WWII to help the millions of Europeans who fled or lost homes when the war ended and the country lines across Europe were redrawn.
Those few refugees who do make it to the United States face the daunting challenge of building a new life in a country with a different language and different customs. Right here in Lexington, Concord, Bedford, Medford, and Lowell that are 80 people either seeking asylum or recently arrived as refugees who are supported by LexRAP. These 80 people are our neighbors.They are from Syria, Uganda, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Afghanistan. Their journey to get here was long and their struggle to make a life in America is hard.
LexRAP began with an email to the Lexington Listserve in 2015 saying “I have an extra bedroom and can take in a Syrian family. Who’s with me?” It is an all-volunteer organization, with strong support from faith groups. LexRAP provides a critical support network for housing, food, clothing, transportation, health care, education (especially English), employment, and more. This takes time, love, and money.
With the pandemic, we haven’t seen much of our families or each other except for on Zoom calls. Most of the families are doing okay, perhaps it should be said that they are treading water – not swimming but most of the world is in that situation. We are lucky that most of the families work in industries that have not been completely wiped out by the shutdown. With help from us, unemployment, and some gracious gifts from the Muslim American Cultural Center of Lexington (MACCL) the families are holding together financially. The school age children have struggled tremendously with the online learning.
While community events and fundraisers have been indefinitely postponed by the virus, the need has not. LexRAP needs your help to continue providing vital support to people trying to start a new life.
LexRAP assumes that the need for financial support to the families continues. We don’t know what a second wave of the virus will do, nor do we understand the recovery from what has already happened. This is going to be a long haul. We anticipate that we will have to help financially in ways and to greater levels than we have had to up until now. For this reason, we ask our supporters to donate what they can now. Donations may be made at http://www.lexrap.org Please help – all donations go to support the families.