March 12, 2020
Announcement from WTAP Regarding the Coronavirus and Our Precautions
One of the reasons that we welcome is to be good neighbors. We want refugees to know that we are glad they have arrived and are safe from harm. Refugee wellbeing is our overriding objective. In order to be a good neighbor and keep refugees and volunteers safe, we’ve made the decision to postpone warehouse volunteer activities, household donation in-take, refugee welcomes, clothing closets, tours and bike nights. We hope that this will be a short-term postponement and for now have removed all volunteer events from our calendar through April 30th. We also have closed the warehouse to incoming household donations. We’ll reevaluate as we learn more about this coronavirus pandemic.
Those who have joined our welcomes know how intimate our adventures are. Lots of handshakes and hugs. Lots of loving hearts. All in small settings. Clearly, it’s best that we postpone our welcomes, acting in a neighborly way.
Please know that we are very ready to welcome. We’ll just have to be patient. We look forward to future welcomes. Happy, healthy gatherings where we can say loudly and safely, “Welcome to America”.
Mike Sullivan, Agency Director
We will visit a family of three including a husband, wife, and their seven-year old daughter. They came to the US almost five months ago from Malaysia, and are very happy to be here, as the US is their ‘dream country.’ The husband currently works at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, mainly doing vacuuming duties. He hopes to find a new job that pays more, but has an injured right leg. His wife hopes to work sometime in the future, once she finishes addressing her medical problems. The husband speaks very good English, and is very happy to share with others.
We will also welcome a family of four from Burundi. They have been in the US for 3 months. The husband and wife are both hoping to find any type of work to help support their two daughters, age 1 and 7 years old, with the oldest being in school. They aren’t quite settled here in the US yet, but said they will slowly become used to it over time.
We will visit a recently-arrived family from the Congo. The family includes the mother and her two sons (ages 16 and 8), who arrived here in November 2019. The children are attending school, and the mother is currently working in a bakery. She fled the Congo in 1996 with her family because of the war raging there. Unfortunately, her father was killed during the escape. She settled with her mother and two younger siblings in a refugee camp in the western part of Rwanda where life was very difficult for them. She eventually married and had two children born in the camp; however, her husband died when her younger son was only six months old. When asked about her dreams for the future, she said “I just want to work hard” and “raise my children to be successful.”
We will also visit a family from Iraq. The father fled Iran 25 years ago because his family was threatened by the Taliban. He settled in Iran for 16 years where he married his Afghan wife and had his first son, who is now 10 years old. He worked in construction but he decided to leave the country because his son was unable to attend school there. The family moved to Turkey where they lived for 7 years in a refugee camp that had a school for his son but did not allow him to work which made life “really tough” for them. Their daughter, who is now 3 years old, was born in the camp. Since arriving in Arizona in December 2019, their lives have improved significantly. Their son, who is in the fourth grade, likes school and has already made friends there. Both parents are learning English along with their children, and the husband is working with his sponsoring agency to find employment. Their hopes for the future focus on their children receiving a wonderful education and becoming successful adults.