Mother and Daughter Reunited
Since the late 1970s NSC has not only welcomed refugees to be resettled in Philadelphia but has reunited families. Refugees forced to flee their countries of orign are often separated from their loved ones. Families are torn apart by the war and conflict in their cities and villages or separated during the long, arduous journey to find safety.
NSC staff know that one of the greatest rewards of our work is to support refugees in reuniting with and welcoming family members from whom they have been separated. We share a family's excitement when we inform them that their relatives will soon be on an airplane bound for Philadelphia. We eagerly work with them in making plans to prepare for their arrival and discuss what will be the first favorite meal they will prepare for them. We consider what items they will need when they first arrive like a warm coat and a blanket, where they will be most comforatable living, and what support they will need to begin to make Philadelphia their new home.
When the first Executive Order was issued, NSC was preparing to assist 11 refugees in being reunited with loved ones. As a result of the EO and the 120 day pause on refugee resettlement, their travel plans were initially cancelled. It was during this time that NSC and a refugee mother, a Karen refugee born in Burma, met with NPR reporter Hansi Lo Wong. Pa Wah spoke about what it had been like for her as a mother to be separated from her daughter who was left alone in the refugee camp. When she had been resettled in Philadelphia, she had assumed that it would be just a few weeks or months before her daughter would join them. She had not given up hope and was prepared to welcome her daughter 10 months later. Then the news came that her daughter's travel had been cancelled. Pa Wah could only think about the safety of her daughter who had given away most of her possession to other refugees. She had assumed she would soon be joining her family in Philadelphia and would no longer need her sleeping mat and the pot she cooked meals in.
When the stay on the EO was then issued, travel for some of those 11 families was rebooked. We are happy to report that Pa Wah was reunited with her daughter during this period. That favorite fish stew mentioned in this NPR story has been consumed and a mother's worry for her daughter has been lifted.
How are Pa Wah and her daughter celebrating being reunited? They are celebrating by attending ESL classes together at NSC. The mother and daughter team are the first to arrive and claim their seats in the front of the room. They sit shoulder to shoulder as they study the language spoken in their new home, a home they are building together.
Please note: In the NPR story, NSC staff member, Betsy Jensen is quoted as stating that we have had to close our volunteer program. Good news! Our volunteer program has reopened.