A Family Reunited

  • A bridge welcomes the family to Philadelphia.
Although they might not have understood all that she was saying, the woman’s welcoming sentiment came across. Before she went back inside, she turned to the family and said “Welcome to America.”

By Felicia Baa-Adomako, Master's in Social Work Intern

About a week before Trump’s executive order was signed banning refugee resettlement for 120 days, I had the opportunity to assist with an airport pickup with two NSC staff members. The Iraqi family consisting of 10 people was scheduled to arrive at Philadelphia airport at 10pm. Unlike images in the news media, many refugees that are resettled in Philadelphia land at John F. Kennedy International Airport where they go through U.S. Customs for processing. This process can take several hours before they are permitted to officially enter the country.  From there, a van that brings the new arrivals to the Philadelphia International Airport. This is where I waited anxiously on a Thursday night for the newest family to arrive.


Upon their arrival, we greeted the family with “hellos” and began working together on loading their bags in different cars. As we worked, I couldn’t help but think about of how hard it must be for someone to pack their entire lives into a number of suitcases and move a world away from what has always been their home. Because this was a large family, we were to drop them off at two different locations. Luckily their NSC case manager spoke Arabic and helped explain the plan of action.


I could tell that it has been a long day for the family and as we drove to Northeast Philadelphia towards their new homes I wondered what their first impressions of the U.S. were like. The first home was furnished with gently used and donated furniture, all organized by NSC’s Resettlement team. Each home also had a hot meal waiting for each family. After a quick tour of the home and a lesson in using the stove and thermostat, we drove to the second home where the family’s relative who had arrived the year before was waiting for them to arrive.


It was truly great to see a family reunited again. The mother who had traveled a long way was finally able to see her daughter after years of separation. By this time it was around 11:30pm and we started moving suitcases into the second home. A kind neighbor came out to welcome the family and talked about how excited she was to have a new family moving in next door. Although they might not have understood all that she was saying, the woman’s welcoming sentiment came across. Before she went back inside, she turned to the family and said “Welcome to America.”