We’ve watched in horror these past few weeks about the ban on refugees. In the turmoil and chaos that followed, it was easy to forget that refugees in the US still needed us. In fact, in the current circumstances, they may need our generosity more than ever before. Refugees like Ailin, we learned, had a full time job but still had to choose between paying rent and buying her children food.
Ailin, an Iranian, was given refugee status in the United States based on her husband’s ill-health and urgent need for care. Soon after their arrival, her husband went into a coma and, a couple of years later, still is. Packing baby food at a factory, Ailin struggles to raise her three children on the $300 she earns each week. She has a 14-year-old son, and daughters ages 10 and 3 years old. Her elderly mother lives with her. With rent at $1250 a month, ICNA Relief’s food pantries kept Ailin’s kitchen going, her children fed.
ICNA Relief also helped pay select bills. This included rent when she was unable to work for three weeks due to a fall. Her family has also been assigned a mentor who makes weekly home visits and drops off groceries. Together, one of the goals they decided on was learning English. As of now, it’s still a distant reality given her time spent at work, caring for her children and managing other responsibilities.
ICNA Relief helped Ailin move into low income housing at the end of February 2017. Praise be to Allah, it was in the same town and that means she can hold onto her job. With a little more money to pay for her needs, she’ll soon be able to focus on other goals, inshaAllah.
Sarwat Fatima Khawari is a wife and mother. She has two boys ages 17 and 19 and a daughter who is 7 years old. Each week, she visits Ailin as a mentor, lending her an ear, providing a hand up, sharing advice and courage. “My mentee, Ailin, was fighting her battles alone, but ICNA Relief has provided her with a support group that will continue to assist her at times of need,” she says.
“Most people with a similar background, coming from Pakistan or India, tend to think that the only people who need assistance are those in their home towns. People living here in America also need support on multiple levels, specifically refugee families who must learn how to navigate a completely different social and cultural system. Since I started mentoring with ICNA Relief three months ago, … I now have a stronger urge to prioritize helping those living in our communities. I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given by Allah to be of help.”
(March 2017, Illinois)