|Literacy Connexus joined Catholic Charities . . .|
Imagine children experiencing war, violence and conflict because of the ethnic group, religion, or political association of their families. Imagine children and families fleeing their homes in fear for their lives, walking for days to reach the safety of a refugee camp. Now imagine these same children attending school for the first time in the United States, not understanding English or what to expect. Imagine how they must feel. This is a typical story of a refugee child.
A refugee, as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention, is a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.
Every year, the United States invites refugees to our country to start new lives. An average of 1,200 refugees resettle annually in Fort Worth, including an estimated 400 school-aged children. They come from Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea--among other countries--and many begin attending school for the first time.
On August 13, Catholic Charities Forth Worth hosted Equip 2011, in partnership with World Relief and Refugee Services of Texas, to help refugee children prepare for a successful school year. The agencies pooled their resources, inviting donors and volunteers to help provide items such as backpacks, supplies, school uniforms, books, dental screenings, and haircuts. Literacy Connexus contributed books and a team of volunteers to help welcome refugee families into the community. A total of 486 children were served, with the help of Literacy Connexus and other valuable partners. Refugee children departed, proud of their new things . . . but more importantly, with more confidence about the school year ahead.
Refugee Educational Services Program Manager
Catholic Charities Fort Worth