For about a month we have been preparing for Yosa and her family to arrive. As soon as they were assigned to Greensboro we were alerted that Yosa – a 13 year-old girl – had some serious health challenges and would need to go straight to the hospital upon landing at the airport.
Because of the housing crisis, it is the rare occasion when we can have a new apartment or rental home ready by the time a family lands. Most often new arrivals must stay in temporary housing for a few weeks before their new home is ready. But in this case, I knew it would be best if we could have a home ready for this family of 5. It could make all the difference for Yosa, her parents, and two younger brothers, to have a comfortable and safe place to rest as they adjust to their new life in the US, and also do what is necessary for Yosa to receive the medical care she needs. I was able to connect with a local landlord who has worked with us many times in the past – Mr. M is supportive of our work and has lots of experience working with refugees – the best kind of landlord! Thankfully he had a 3-bedroom rental home coming available right on time. And at an affordable rental price! Jackpot! We immediately got to work assigning the set-up of this home to our superstar volunteer, Ms. K. She has been volunteering with us for many years and we knew she and her team could make things happen and have this home move-in ready when the family arrives. It is such a blessing to work with people like Ms. K and Mr. M. When we say “It takes a Village” we mean it!
In this case, Ms. K was able to use her many connections in the community to completely furnish the home. (It helps to live in High Point and have links to the Furniture Capital of the World!) Mr. M had a couch and chair for the living room, and Ms. K was able to secure the bedroom furniture, dining table & chairs and household items. Most of these items are gently used, but they look great and are in fantastic condition! I have been so happy knowing things were coming together perfectly to accommodate this family and their unique needs.
We know Yosa and her family left Afghanistan in the fall of 2021 during the Taliban takeover. From Afghanistan they travelled to Jordan where they have been for a year or so. Yosa has been receiving her needed medical care while there. Now they are finally headed to the US. I cannot imagine such a journey – the trauma they have endured leaving their home and having to stay in an unknown country for an unknown amount of time. The stress and fear her parents must feel trying to take care of their children and especially a medically-fragile child in all of these new and unknown conditions. It is hard for me – a middle-class white American – to fathom.
Their scheduled arrival date is less than 7 days from now. But within the last 48 hours we have learned more about Yosa’s condition and we have realized that Greensboro may not be the right place for her. While we have excellent medical care here, she needs a medical center that can provide specialized pediatric care. UNC Chapel Hill is probably the best place. So while details are yet to be determined, there is a strong possibility that instead of coming to Greensboro this family will be placed in Durham/Chapel Hill, so Yosa will be in the best location for her medical needs. We will know early next week – a few days before their scheduled arrival – if our sister office in Durham can make things happen so the family can land there this week and settle there permanently.
If things work out, the family will hopefully be able to fly directly into RDU, Yosa will be able to go straight to UNC Hospital, and the family will be able to have a place to live in that community. The details are unknown at this moment! If the switch to Durham will not work out in the next few days, we will welcome them here, they can stay in the safe & comfortable home that is ready for them, until new arrangements are made to move them to Chapel Hill/Durham.
As the Housing Specialist who made all of the housing arrangements, a change like this is not easy. It is frustrating to fight the housing systems in the US to get things lined up quickly, only to have to undo all the actions already taken. But in this case, it is the right thing for the family. Yosa needs to be where her medical needs can be best cared for. The family needs to be in a place where the public transportation system is easier & more reliable to get Yosa to her doctors as needed. Landing in the right place will make all the difference for this family.
*Yosa and her family are from Afghanistan, but otherwise all names & details in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.
I have been doing the housing/refugee resettlement work for about a year and I’m sorry to realize I have only blogged twice! This work is hard and demanding and while there have been many incredible stories, I have done a poor job of finding the energy or time to share. I will try to do better! Hearing the stories of these courageous families puts our privileged American life in perspective. I’m grateful for the experience of doing this work.