The refugee family, from Syria, arrived in Ledyard on May 4th, 2016. They were given an enthusiastic welcome by the members of the Ledyard Congregational Church. Their rental house had been totally furnished by our members with many contributions from people in the wider community. The family was very impressed as they stated their thank you’s over and over again. They said that the house and the welcome were way beyond their expectations.
We were immediately joined in this project by members of the Groton Mosque. Many of us attended their prayer services and many of them attended our International Night of foods and festivities. The mosque members have joined in the acculturation efforts for our new family. Two of the young women, who are Arabic speakers and are now attending the community college, have volunteered to provide ongoing services as translators and language teachers.
Many of our members have joined the ever-expanding team of English language tutors who go to the house almost every day to give individual lessons. Everyone comments about the mutual gratification that comes from these contacts. The mother and father are now attending English classes every weekday morning at New London Adult Education.
Other members have contributed to the acculturation efforts by taking the family to local attractions or inviting them to their homes. The family has been to the Aquarium, Bluff Point and the Memorial Day Parade among other things. The teenage son began playing soccer with members of the Ledyard High School team during the summer and continues now at school.
The father of the family began by working part time at a pizza restaurant, then got regular work at Mohegan Sun. The mother has demonstrated her talents as a seamstress and she is willing to take on piece work that could be done in her own home. She also has a job at a local orchard shop. Church members have been giving them rides and paying an Uber driver to help, too.
The three children seem to be happy in the Ledyard Public Schools. Their teachers report that things are going well and they are all picking up English quite quickly. The older son is proud to be part of the Ledyard soccer team. Volunteers are giving him rides for games and practices.
Deb has helped the family with their financial records. They have bank accounts and budgets as they prepare for the day when they will be self-sufficient. They have now learned to do their banking, including on-line. Several members have enjoyed shopping with the family.
The Ledyard Rotary Club has joined our efforts by voting to give a financial stipend to the two young women who were working regularly with the family as a summer internship. That work, by people who speak the Arabic language, is a great help to us and we are sure that it reduced the anxieties of the family.
The family is also grateful for the much-needed medical care of their doctors at Yale Medical Center. A surgery, which would have been impossible to find in Syria, was successful and even the patient was cheerful as he was taken in for the operation!
Our project caught the attention of the media. The New London Day newspaper interviewed our friends and other Syrian families in our area extensively for a lengthy article. Also, CNN International came to interview the family. This program was shown around the world. The outreach missions of the Ledyard Congregational Church are being noticed near and far.
Thank God for this opportunity to put our Christian faith in action!