Refugee Resettlement

Our refugee resettlement ministry with the Kondas concluded after one year of work with a celebration in January of 2016. The parish is currently taking a break from refugee resettlement ministry work but remains passionate about this issue. You can read more about what was involved in this ministry below.

The Kondas Arrive at the Grand Rapids Airport
The Kondas Arrive at the Grand Rapids Airport

The Kondas are a family of four refugees from Sudan. An Arabic-speaking Sudanese family, they come from Muslim roots, though the father, Abdelhamid, is a convert to Christianity. Our parish is their co-sponsor with Bethany Christian Services and was thrilled to meet them at the airport when they arrived. After a journey through the snowy West Michigan roads (no one in the family had ever seen snow before!), they settled them in a new duplex that had been furnished and filled with groceries, almost entirely gifts of parishioners. Our parish now walks alongside the Kondas during their first year here, supporting them in teams focusing on: finances, social activities, medical needs, transportation, education/ESL, and continuing housing needs.

SJE Parishioner Alicia Hager wrote an essay in advance of their arrival about the holy work of preparation, entitled, “Advent: The Arrival of a Notable Person, Thing or Event.” You can read that essay online here.

Here are the details on the work of the various support teams…

  • Financial Support — people who will help them figure out things like getting a checking account, how to shop for groceries and clothes on a budget, etc.
  • Medical Support — people who will help them get medical care, particularly helping them by connecting them with health professionals in the area.
  • Transportation Support — people who will give them rides to places they need to be, particularly when Harbor Transit is not a viable form of transportation. This group also takes them shopping for groceries on a weekly basis.
  • Housing SupportPeople who keep track of any remaining needs for their home, helping them become self-sufficient in this area.
  • Additionally, all members of the various support teams were on one mass e-mail group so that if an issue comes up that one team cannot solve on their own, they can reach out to the others. This group also contains members who are not on a specific support team but who want to be contacted if any significant or abnormal need arises.

One thought on “Refugee Resettlement

  • November 23, 2016 at 11:27 am
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    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I’m an Anglican Immigrant lady very much interested in getting involved in your Church’s Refugee Resettlement Project. However, I’m not a member of St. John’s Parish. Do I have to be a member of your Parish in order to help the Kondas settle down in the USA? I remember how lost I felt coming to the USA for the first time, to a very different culture and a different about everything and fully understand, based on my personal experiences, what it’s like to be in the Kondas shoes and I’m hoping that I could use those experiences to help them navigate a whole new way of doing things. But even more important, coming from Africa myself, though not from the same Country as the Kondas, probably puts me in a good position to try and assist as far as Cultural Differences are concerned.

    In 2003, I had the opportunity to be involved with the Sudanese Group of Refugees , referred tob y the Muskegon Chronicles back then as “The Lost Boys” who were sponsored and placed in Grand Haven by a Grand Haven Church. I contacted them after I read about them and visited them in Grand Haven. They were overjoyed just to know that there was someone who understood their Culture and Fears in a whole different world , eventhough back then, I had nothing to offer them materially, as I was still working with the Detroit Immigration Court, and was not fully settled myself. Just the Emotional Support meant a lot to them.

    Even little things like helping with Homework for those who were enrolled in GED/ other Classes, helping with English Instruction for those learning English as a second language, enlightening them about resources available to them in the Community to help navigate their new environment. The Public Library, for instance is a very wonderful place to be when one moves to a whole new different place.

    Please don’t hesitate to forward my name and contact information to the Konda Family, so they can contact me anytime. Although I live in Norton shores, I’m in Grand Haven 5 – 7 days a week for my new job where I work second shift (03:00 pm – 11:00 pm). Before heading into work I spend most days at the Loutit Public Library located at 407 Columbus Avenue, Grand Haven, MI 49417.

    3038 Bailey Street; Norton Shores; MI 49444 Cell Phone #: (248)325-7714.

    Because my job takes me into Grand Haven almost every day, I’m planning to relocate there and have considered taking some membership classes at St. John’s Parish. I left Muskegon county in July of 2003 , and just moved back last June after a long stay in Washington, DC where I was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church by Lafayette Square, right across from the White House.

    Have a wonderful Festive Season.

    Grace Mukobe Kaluba.

    Reply

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