"Jayla is one of those moms who makes an effort to be involved in her children's lives and education. Despite having a language barrier in communicating with teachers, she attends every parent event and conference, asking questions about how to support learning at home." Claire, Catholic Charities' refugee integration specialist explains. Jayla began attneding parent classes with Catholic Charities in early 2020. When COVID-19 hit, classes were suspended, but Jayla was still eager to learn. She started meeting with a Catholic Chairites volunteer virtually to practice her English. Although in the beginning of the pandemic it was difficult to help her children adjust to online school, with the help of her volunteer and her own children to adjust to online school, with the help of her volunteer and her own dedication, she quickly became confident in navigating virtual learning with her children. Jayla continues to work with her volunteer to reach her goal of speaking in English with her children's teachers, and she is proud of eveything she has learned.
Raoul came to the United States with his wife and three children as refugees. Like many persecuted people, Raoul suffered from post-traumatic stress and found it extremely hard to keep a job. They connected with Catholic Charities’ Refugee and Immigration Services, where they created a plan of action. Raoul began by improving his English language and literacy skills. Working toward citizenship was another important goal to ease stress. We found a volunteer tutor to personalize his studying needs. Raoul and his tutor worked long and hard to prepare for the citizenship exam, while one of our pro bono immigration attorneys helped to complete his immigration forms. Our attorney accompanied Raoul to his final portion of the test, and he passed! At the end of 2019, Raoul attended the Citizenship Ceremony with his family there to cheer him on.
Carmen came to the United States at 16 to escape the chaos that plagued her early childhood. She soon met a man who seemed caring and protective – she felt safe. It wasn’t long after they married that her husband began to treat Carmen just as her father treated her mother. Carmen’s first pregnancy made her husband angry. She withstood humiliation and abuse, never calling the police because her husband convinced her that calling the police was useless. He threatened her with deportation and loosing custody of the children. One day, he threatened their daughter, and Carmen found the courage to leave.
A local domestic violence shelter referred Carmen to Catholic Charities’ Legal Services for Immigrants program. She was surprised when our staff said her case was fairly common. Carmen and her legal services attorney prepared an extensive and detailed affidavit. They gathered all the evidence and mailed in an application for protection under the Violence Against Women Act. Today, Carmen has lawful permanent residency. She and her children are safe. Carmen is working and going to school part-time.
In 1996, Zwazita fled her war-torn homeland in the Congo, to a refugee camp in Tanzania, with her husband and 10 children. In 2013, her husband died of cancer while in the camp, and Zwazita was left to care for the children. Two years later, she and six of her children were resettled in Milwaukee through Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement program. Two of her adult sons had already resettled here and there was great joy when Zwazita and the children arrived.
The family thrives, thanks to the committed work of their Catholic Charities resettlement case worker who spoke Zwazita’s dialect and made the transition to a new culture so much easier. Zwazita started to learn English through the agency’s English as a Second Language classes. She takes pride in her younger children who are doing well in school.
Today, she and one of her older daughters are happily employed, and the family is now self-sufficient. Zwazita has two adult children who are married and still in the refugee camp – they look forward to the day when they are reunited.