Family Bios: June 29, 2019

Family Bios: June 29, 2019

The families we will see today include one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a widow and her three adult children –  a daughter, age 23, and two sons, ages 26 and 27.   They left their country almost 16 years ago and have lived ever since in a Burundi refugee camp, where her husband died.    This March they were relocated to Arizona, where they have settled in well.  One son received a scholarship in the refugee camp which allowed him to study to be a teacher.  He hopes to be able to teach here.

We will see a Syrian family, who also arrived this March. The young couple have two children, a 9-year old son and a 6-year old daughter.  When they were forced to leave their country seven years ago, they fled to Jordan, then relocated to Saudi Arabia, and had to return to Jordan before finally being resettled in Arizona.  They spoke of how much they appreciated and were moved by the warm welcome they received when they got off the airplane in Phoenix.   The father is a skilled carpenter and hopes to find such work here.  Their children liked their first months of school here very much.

We will also visit also visit a family of 10 from Tanzania.  Mom and Dad are from the DRC but lived the last 20 years in a camp in Tanzania, where they met and all their children were born.  In Tanzania, Dad worked in a medical lab at a UN-run hospital, and he would like to work in the same type of job here. He also attended the John Maxwell School of Leadership and was active in supporting orphans and “those who did not have a voice.”  He would very much like to get back in touch with his group in Tanzania to be sure the work is still being done.  They have been in the US just over 1 month.  Mom and Dad are both very proud of their children (3 sons and 5 daughters), whose ages range from 8 month to 15 years. The older children are enrolled in school and are starting to understand English.

Family Bios: June 22, 2019

We’ll visit a young man originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He fled with his family seven years ago when their village was attacked.  Separated from the rest of the family along with his father, they initially traveled to Burundi, where his father later died.  He was then sent to a camp in Kenya where he completed high school and was  reunited five years later with his mother and six siblings.  He was given the option to come to the United States by himself this year, and his family encouraged him to take advantage of this opportunity, but he hopes to eventually have his family join him in the United States.  He asked to be sent to Arizona because he had a very close friend here who arranged for him to stay temporarily with another friend.  Since arriving in Arizona three months ago, he has found employment and is also attending classes to earn his GED at Rio Salado College.   He hopes to have his own apartment with a friend in the future, and is planning on attending college to study nursing.  He has become involved in a Congolese Church where members are very supportive of him and appreciate his musical talent.  He sings and plays guitar in their services.

We’ll also visit a Rhohinga family of four from Myan Mar, including mom, dad, a seven-year old son and a four-year old daughter.  Dad left Myan Mar in 1995 for Malaysia, where he met his wife in 2011.  Dad worked construction in Malaysia and is now working at a tissue paper factory.  All family members are learning English and their son is in school.  They are happy to be in the United States and starting their new life.

We’ll visit a newly arrived family of 10 from the Democratic Republic of Congo and learn more about them on Saturday.

Family Bios: June 1, 2019

We will be visiting a family of five, with mother, father, two daughters (ages 5 and 7) and a son (age 9).  The father fled his village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996 because his life was in danger.  He finally settled in Burundi in 2003 where he lived in the community, working as a bus driver. In Burundi, he met his wife and they went on to have their three children. They arrived in Arizona on March 12, 2019, and the husband said that he “thanks God” they are here.  The two older children have started school, and like it, and a week ago the father started working in a food preparation plant.  He said that his dream is “to do something good in America.”

We will also visit a family originally from Eritrea.  The mother and father have two daughters (ages 2 and 10), and two sons (ages 6 and 13).  They left the country 8 years ago because of problems with the political party in power.  They had imprisoned the wife’s brother who later died in custody.  The family fled to Ethiopia where they lived in a refugee camp for eight years.  The camp provided security for the family but food and clothing rations were very limited.  Both parents graduated from teaching colleges in Eritrea and taught in the school system in the camp.  They arrived in Arizona on April 3, 2019, and feel “very fortunate” to be in this country.  They are looking forward to finding work and being able to change the family’s life.  The husband’s dream is to become a truck driver and his wife hopes to further her education and continue to work with children. The children love soccer and are looking forward to attending school next term.

We will also welcome an extended family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The father and mother have four adult children – three sons (ages 23, 27, and 28) and a daughter (age 32) who also has two children, a daughter (age 2) and a son (age 7).  They fled the DRC because of war in 2001 and settled in Burundi where they lived within the community with families who helped them.  The family arrived together in Arizona on March 6, 2019, and are very happy to be settled here.  They occupy two apartments adjacent to each other with the parents and their daughter and grandchildren in one apartment, and the three adult sons in the other apartment.  They look forward to the opportunities for education and employment in their new country.

Family Bios: May 18, 2019

We’ll visit a young woman from Democratic of Republic of Congo, who lived in foster care shortly after arrival. She arrived about two years ago, having lived in refugee camps most of her life. We’ll help her to settle into her first-ever apartment.

We will also meet two families from Syria. One family had to flee suddenly during civil war and traveled on foot to Jordan. They remained in refugee camps for two years. The couple has six kids ranging in age from 5 months to 20 years old. All are very happy to be in the US.

The second Syrian family is a family of four. They fled Syria for Lebanon in 2012 and eventually found safety in a refugee camp in Jordan. They are very happy to be in the US where the kids (ages 11 and 16) can learn in school and parents can work.

Family Bios: May 11, 2019

We’ll greet a family of three from Syria, who have been in the US for a little over a month. Dad requires a wheel chair.  Mom likes baking and taking care of her family. Their 5-year old daughter enjoyed our visit.  She loves meeting new people and is excited to make new friends at school. She spoke often of how much she misses her grandparents, who are not in the US.

We will also be visiting a family from Burma (Myanmar).   The husband is 23 years-old and was born in a Bangladesh refugee camp and moved to Malaysia at age 19 to another refugee camp. From Malaysia, he was processed to come to San Antonio, Texas in September 2018, where he lived until last month.  He has not known life outside of a refugee camp until coming to the US last year. He met his wife in Texas and they moved to Phoenix, where they were married.  His family left Burma long before he was born to move to the refugee camp in Bangladesh to escape the violence of the military/government toward the Rohingya people.  Both husband and wife are working in house cleaning and their son attends school and has learned English very well.  Both husband and wife are attending English classes, and are able to  speak some English.

Then we will be visiting a family of five originally from Burma, but who fled to Malaysia. Mom speaks English very well, which she learned when she was enrolled in school.  She also discovered an interest in computer sciences while in school. Her husband recently started working in the food industry.  They are excited to be in the US and for their children to have access to greater opportunities.  We were lucky to see them at a recent WAVE (Clothing Closet) and they have quickly bonded with WTAP and our volunteers.

And we will also visit a family of six from Burma.  The family are Karen, the majority of whom have settled on the Thailand–Myanmar border. Essentially, the Karen are people without a country who can live their entire lives in refugee camp.  The parents, grandfather and three children live together and have been in the US for two months.  The brothers are ages 9, 15 and 18, and are all attending school, and enjoy playing sports in their free time. The father is recently employed, and the mother enjoys cooking their native dishes.

Family Bios: May 4, 2019

We will visit 3 families from the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend. Violence in the DRC goes back to the genocide in Rwanda, a neighboring country, beginning in 1994. Millions of people are estimated to have been killed in the violence, that continues in some forms to this day. According to data for the UN, more than 2.1 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2017 alone — equivalent to an average of 50 families fleeing every hour, every day.

One family fled the DRC when the mom was about 10 years old. Her family lived in a camp in Tanzania for 19 years. During that time, she lost 2 brothers and her mother.  The mother, her father, her 2 brothers and her 5 children arrived in Phoenix in October 2016.  Sadly, just one year later, the mother’s father passed away.  All the adults have been able to find work and the children are all doing well in school. The older girls speak very good English and the youngest boy will be starting kindergarten next year.

Another family we will visit also fled the DRC but sought safety in Rwanda. The mother fled the DRC when she was about 7, leaving with her sister, who was 30, and her sister’s husband. They lived in camp in Rwanda for 20 years.  The mother arrived in Phoenix with her 4 boys in March 2019. The older children have all started school and are already learning English. The youngest stays at home with his mother.  Our client’s sister, with whom she originally fled the DRC, has been resettled in Norway. Although she is very far away, our client is able to talk to her sister by phone.

A third family we will visit is also from DRC and also fled to Tanzania. The mother fled DRC with her children in 1998. Her children grew and had families of their own before they were granted asylum. The mother, her daughter and her 2 grandchildren arrived in Phoenix in February 2019. One of her sons has also been resettled in Phoenix, while her other children remain in Tanzania.  They were exceptionally grateful for the visit and for the offer of support from WTAP.

Family Bios: March 23, 2019 (morning)

This weekend we will welcome a Syrian family who arrived in Arizona in September 2016 after fleeing Damascus when the war started several years ago. They moved from the capital and stayed in various Syrian towns for 8 months before fleeing to Lebanon where they lived four years in a camp before coming to the United States. The wife says that it was “very hard” living in the camp, and the family “suffered” under these circumstances. The husband is 40 years old and is currently working at the car rental facilities at the airport. His wife, who is 37 years old, had just given birth to a son 10 days prior to the home visit. The family has seven girls, ages 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15 and 16 years old. All are in school except the youngest, and they are doing well.  The family is “very happy” to be here, and the children are excited to have the opportunity to attend school. One wants to be a doctor while another hopes to become a teacher. Both parents are trying to improve their English skills, and their children are helping them learn the language.

We will also welcome a family from Iraq who arrived in Arizona in November 2017, fleeing the persecution that they experienced because husband had worked for three years as a translator for the American military. During that time period, his father had borrowed his car and was killed by a car bomb which was intended for him. After he left the US military employment, he joined the Iraqi army. He has a degree in English from an Iraqi university and is currently working in the security field at the airport. The wife, age 32, is a housewife and is working on improving her English which is very limited. The parents have three sons, ages 12, 10, and 9 and a daughter, age 1. The family is doing very well and the children are enjoying their school experience here. The father would like to pursue a degree in Homeland Security but he also discusses the opportunity to work as a translator in the government. The parents’ goals for their children are to be educated and to provide them with good opportunities for their future so they will have a “good life.”

Executive Director job posting

 

 

Executive Director

The Welcome to America Project (WTAP) is a nonprofit organization that creates community connections and builds bridges of neighborly understanding by providing furniture, basic necessities, education, and additional resources to newly arriving refugees. We offer a simple welcoming gesture, but it is one that lasts a lifetime. 

Schedule:                 Full time with some evenings and weekends required

Location:                  WTAP Warehouse and home office

Reports to:               Board President

Travel:                        Some regional travel required (25%)

The Welcome to America Project is looking for a passionate, dynamic, visionary leader to take the organization to the next level. The Executive Director (ED) will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for The Welcome to America Project’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission.

 

Requirements

The ED will be thoroughly committed to WTAP’s mission. All candidates should have proven leadership, nonprofit, and relationship management experience.

Specific requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree; Master’s Degree a plus
  • At least 3-5 years of leadership and management experience; ability to point to specific examples of having developed and operationalized strategies that have taken an organization to the next stage of growth;
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach staff, manage, and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget
  • Past success working with a Board of Directors with the ability to cultivate existing board member relationships
  • Strong communications and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills
  • Action-oriented, entrepreneurial, adaptable, and innovative; ability to work in lean environment
  • Solid computer skills, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, WordPress, QuickBooks, Salesforce, Constant Contact, e-mail/Internet.
  • Passion, idealism, integrity, positive attitude, mission-driven, and self-directed

 

Responsibilities

Leadership & Management:

  • Provide strategic leadership and actively engage and energize WTAP board members, committees, partnering organizations, volunteers, staff, and funders around vision and
  • Recruit, lead, coach, develop, and retain WTAP staff and skilled volunteers and oversee the operations to ensure the successful execution of WTAP’s mission.
  • Ensure that WTAP conforms to current laws and regulations and operates according to best practices for charitable organizations.
  • Ensure the financial health of the organization by managing to a budget, developing and implementing sound financial practices, and supporting board’s financial oversight responsibilities

Fundraising & Communications:

  • Oversee communications strategies and activities to external and internal stakeholders and represent the organization and the mission to community stakeholders
  • Grow local revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing program operations and regional expansion. Development efforts include fundraising planning and implementation, identifying and cultivating individual and major gifts, executing annual event, and seeking corporate and foundation support through grant and volunteer activities.

Program & Expansion:

  • Work with the board and steering committee on a regional expansion model and strategic planning process for the program expansion into new markets.
  • Oversee the execution of expansion model by building partnerships in new markets and establishing relationships with funders and community leaders
  • Support programs as needed in order to ensure consistent delivery of high quality services

Interested applicants should send a resume, cover letter, and 3 references to info@wtap.org with the subject line: Executive Director application.

WTAP is hiring!

Operations and Administration Coordinator

 

Schedule:                 Varies, 3 days/wk, Tuesday mornings required

Hours:                       10 hours/wk with opportunity to grow to 20hrs/wk

Location:                  WTAP Warehouse, opportunity to work one day a week from home

Reports to:               Executive Director

Temporary Status:   This position is part-time

The role of the Operations and Administration Coordinator will be to develop WTAP’s administrative systems, provide administrative support to the Executive Director and Program staff, and manage the day to day operations of the organization.

Requirements

  • Excellent organizational skills with the ability to juggle multiple tasks, set priorities, effectively manage time, and meet deadlines;
  • Detail oriented and a self-starter;
  • Experience with inventory and logistics
  • Experience leading volunteer groups a plus
  • Solid computer skills: Microsoft suite, email, internet, Salesforce;
  • Discrete and trustworthy individual with a history of financial responsibilities including handling deposits;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication abilities;
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Passion for the mission and adaptability

Responsibilities

  1. Inventory Management (3-4hrs)
  • Manage incoming donation inventory
  • Lead team of volunteers in the sorting and organizing of donations, weekly
  1. Recordkeeping (1hr)
  • Gather receipts, check requests, deposit details, transaction reports, and bank statements for bookkeeper, monthly
  • Maintain donor Salesforce entries, bi-monthly
  • Maintain and track program data, oversee volunteers and interns to support this function
  • Organize and maintain all physical and electronic files
  1. Reporting (1hr)
  • Assist in preparing all program reports, files and documentation for review
  • Other donor and financial reporting as assigned
  1. General Administrative Support (4hrs)
  • Respond to general inquiries
  • Schedule weekly donation pick-ups
  • Create donation receipts and thank you’s, address, and mail
  • Check mail, weekly
  • Bank deposits, weekly or bimonthly
  • Run Payroll bi-weekly and submit tax reports
  • Prepare check requests, and expense reports, as requested for signature
  • Order supplies as needed
  • Run errands, as necessary
  • Other duties as assigned

To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Collin.cunningham@wtap.org

Family Bios: April 29, 2017

One family we will visit is also from Iraq. The mom (54) lives with her 3 grown daughters (ages 29, 27, 26). The eldest daughter has been in Phoenix for 16 months; the rest of the family arrived in December 2016 after waiting 7 years to be granted asylum. In Iraq, the 2 older daughters worked in a bank and the younger daughter was a physical fitness trainer. All three young women speak English and are employed; the mother is going to English classes. The family is happy to be here and all together. They especially like the weather in Phoenix which reminds them of home.

Another family we will visit is a young Rohingya mother (27) from Burma and her 2 young sons, ages 6 and 8. The family arrived in February. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ethnic group in Burma. They are not legally allowed to work or attend schools. Often, the fathers, who face the most persecution, flee first and then are followed by their families. For this family, the father wound up in Malaysia, while the mother and the 2 boys fled to Indonesia. They have been separated since they fled. The older son is happy in school, but the younger son does not want to leave his mother. The mom is especially distressed that her husband remains in Malaysia and wants desperately to be reunited with him. In the meantime, she ahs found some other Rohingya families in her apartment complex that she has befriended.

We will also visit a family  from Iraq. The Father (35), Mother (17), and son (1) arrived February 2017 in Phoenix. The family came directly from Iraq to Arizona. The husband’s father and sister from Iraq arrived in Phoenix in April. Extended family members also reside in Texas. Two sisters and two brothers are still in Iraq. Family members worked for the US Armed Forces in Iraq. After 2005 the family needed to flee due to safety. In 2013 the family was separated and applied for visas to come to the United States. They are very happy to be in Arizona and they are very appreciative for all of the help they are receiving. They are already friendly with other resettled families and they are looking forward to their new life in America.

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