Help in Resettling in Bay Ridge

The Jwan Kanj family in Bay Ridge. (Photo by Georgine Benvenuto via Brooklyn Paper)

The New Immigrants and Refugees Fund, launched by the Arab American Family Support Center in Brooklyn last July, has already helped 16 displaced families to resettle here, reports Julianne McShane in Brooklyn Paper.

The funds provided go toward helping to pay off airfare costs to the U.S. – all refugee families must refund the U.S. State Department airfare costs within three and a half years. Meanwhile, AAFSC also provides the families with mental health treatment services, English language courses, and job training. Said Rawaa Nancy Albilal, president of the support center: “These are people’s neighbors and future contributors to society…They have gone through so much and they deserve the best.”

The Jwan Kanj family, displaced persons from Syria who arrived after living in Turkey for more than four years, has benefited from AAFSC support. Now living in Bay Ridge, they have paid off a third of their airfare costs, according to Brooklyn Paper. They also have received financial assistance from the U.N. refugee agency.

The family left Syria in October 2012, and from Turkey they initiated plans to come to the U.S.

Trump’s election, and his subsequent “Muslim ban,” made them lose hope for a while about the prospect of entering the U.S.

After the ban, a lot of Americans think that all Syrians are terrorists,” he said.

Amina added that refugees are overwhelmingly innocent people who are trying to flee political strife, oppressive regimes, and dangerous living conditions in order to live in peace.

“Most of these countries need someone to help [refugees], because there’s a lot of people from these countries that deserve to leave,” she said.

And Albilal said that many refugees arrive in the U.S. with almost nothing but emotional wounds from tough journeys.

“Many fled overnight with just a bag and the clothes on their backs,” she said.

Go to Brooklyn Paper to read about the family’s odyssey following their departure from Aleppo, prompted by worries that now-24 year old Shirwan was in danger  because of his participation in university protests.

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