I remember like it was yesterday. We had only been in Belgium a few weeks. My French was barely passable. Enrolling the children in school had been accomplished before our arrival by colleagues already there. Then we received the school supply list. What a nightmare! Figuring out exactly what was needed, trying to understand the French, wanting the children to not be embarrassed on the first day of school because their parents couldn’t figure out what to do….I was overwhelmed just staring at the school supply section of the store. Thankfully another American overheard me talking to the children and offered to help!
As we work with refugees I am often reminded of difficult moments we have had living in other countries. The beginning of the school year is one of the most difficult. Getting the supplies, figuring out clothes, all the papers you receive in a foreign language, not to mention the children’s understandable anxiety of not just the first day of school but the first day in a new country! This is compounded for a refugee. They have been in a transition that most of them did not choose. They were forced to flee. Their fleeing may well be associated with trauma. Settling children into school well is a triumph and a joy.
You can help with that!!! During the month of August we will be collecting backpacks and school supplies. We will be partnering with our friends at Pro-Optix Eye Care. Simply make your purchases and drop them off at Pro-Optix in the Galleria area of Houston. Not in Houston? No worries! You can help by sending us Target or Walmart gift cards electronically or by mail and we will make the purchases. The needed school supplies are listed in our graphic below.
At the end of August we will deliver the backpacks to Interfaith Ministries Refugee Services. Newly arrived refugee children will be able to show up at school with new backpacks and all the supplies they need. A burden is taken off the parents and the children beam with pride and excitement.
Thank you for joining us in this investment into children’s lives.