Over the last several months, FIRM has partnered with the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno (ICCF) and four other Muslim centers to coordinate in meeting the needs of 24 Syrian refugee families (at this writing) – around 150 people total, 80 to 90 of these are children. The total number of people being served has doubled in the last month, as families who spent years in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan or Turkey have finally been cleared for entry to the US. Many of these families have resettled in the US and are relocating to Fresno from their original resettlement locations. FIRM has added three Arabic-speaking staff to assist with this outreach.
In addition to helping the families begin to adjust culturally, each family has many basic needs. Families have been receiving assistance from FIRM, ICCF, and other providers to find appropriate apartments, furniture, clothing, transportation, schools, employment and medical care – as well as help with setting up utilities and other services.
The largest need is for cash which is being used in several ways. For instance, rental deposits on apartments help families get into appropriate housing. Since these families do not have a credit history, PG&E requires a $600-$700+ deposit before utilities can be turned on. Many refugee families took out loans of $6000-$10,000 to pay for their transportation to the US from refugee camps in Jordan or Turkey, and loan payments are starting to come due before the families have had a chance to get established and have a regular income.
In addition, here are other non-cash needs:
- furniture, (dressers, couches, etc.)
- cars (9 needed currently)
- clothing, especially children’s clothing
- disposable diapers, sizes 2, 4 & 6
- laundry detergent
Volunteers are also needed:
- tutors, especially math and English for all grade levels
- moving help (some families initially landed in slumlord housing, and are gradually finding more appropriate housing)
- driving instructors and those who can coach adults toward getting drivers licenses
- help with ESL classes and in-home ESL tutors for families
- referrals for possible jobs and/or other employment assistance
Donations of clothing, diapers and laundry detergent can be brought by the FIRM office during regular office hours.
If you would like to donate furniture or an automobile, or if you would like to volunteer in one of the ways described above, please email Lucky Siphongsay.