EVENT DATE: Aug 12, 2011
HOURS PLEDGED: 7
We've been trying to do a fundraiser in several forms--dance party, yard sale--for some awesome Burundian refugees that we're lucky to have as our friends and neighbors. We met them in the context of helping them improve their conversational English, and it has been a mutually beneficial learning-relationship experience indeed since Clarisse and Jean Claude speak at least four languages! We hangout with them and are neighborly over all the usual things--outings to the park, sharing recipes and meals, bargain hunting.They are a very loving couple raising two amazing girls, and they approach each new and sometimes confusing experience with admirable self-discipline and curiosity.
Yet, without the family and friend network of support they had to leave behind in Burundi and Kenya, the young family is struggling with upward mobility. Between Jean being denied any work by Wal-mart, one of the only places in Knoxville that will hire our refugee population, while he recovers from surgery & Clarisse being on the verge of having a new baby, they are struggling with their bills and are projected to come up seriously short by the end of this month.
Recently, they've been dropped from their social worker's caseload and are receiving no more federal aid. They fail to qualify for many forms of assistance based on having a (usually) stable income and based on their visa status, and other services are being scaled back. The wonderful people at the refugee service that placed them here in Knoxville are badly overworked. All this means that it is up to their friends to help support them as they adjust to life in the U.S. Without strong ties with new neighbors, getting established in a new country can be very trying for a young family. I say that not only from personal experience, but from seeing this happening to other refugee families in Knoxville who are unfortunatley not so lucky to have sound inter-family ties between husband and wife and between parents and children like Jean Claude and Clarissa have cultivated beautifully that help them be strong and positive through difficult times.
They have urgent financial needs we're raising funds for in as many ways as we can, namely to help with short-term with rent and utilities for one month while Jean recovers from surgery and Clarisse perpares to and recovers from delivering her baby. Beyond that, we're trying to allocate funds for a transfer college application for Jean that will involve some expensive, University of Tennessee-required verification of international educational credentials. Basically, we're trying to help support this hard-working, newly-American family be upwardly mobile by helping them stay in their apartment and helping Jean continue and complete his education, so he can be better prepared to provide for his family. As many of you out there know, without financial help from your family, it would not have been possible to get on your feet. Now imagine your family is thousands of miles away and you either can't locate and contact them or you lost them in a senseless mass violence.
These people need your help.
Please, however small an amount you can give, help us raise money.