refugee and immigrant FOSTER CARE

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1 refugee and immigrant FOSTER CARE program introduction One of the best things about [my foster daughter] is her sense of humor. We actually learned to laugh together before we could talk to each other, which was an amazing way to start a relationship. Dear Prospective Foster Parent, Thank you for your interest in Bethany Christian Services Refugee & Immigrant Foster Care program. Bethany has been serving children and families since 1944, with experience in Refugee & Immigrant Foster Care since Our branch office is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In this packet you will find an overview of the program including frequently asked questions, a history of the program, a personal story from one of our refugees and a schedule of our upcoming orientation meetings. Our orientation meetings are a wonderful way to learn more about the program and to help you decide whether or not fostering a refugee youth will be a good fit for you and your family, without having to make a commitment. Thank you again for reviewing this packet and considering becoming a Foster Parent. Contact Bethany Christian Services to learn more or to sign up for the next orientation meeting. Our Licensing Specialists are just a phone call away to answer your questions and guide you to the next step. Sincerely, Marie Simon Refugee & Immigrant Foster Care Licensing Supervisor LEARN MORE. CONTACT US TODAY Bethany Christian Services GR.340.PKT.11749

2 No Longer Running for His Life One of the Sudan s Lost Boys Helps Recently Arrived Refugees Adier Deng fled his home in southern Sudan at the age of 4 in 1989 during the Second Sudanese Civil War. He was separated from his family, who now live in a refugee camp in Uganda. Deng s mother died on the way to the camp. After an arduous journey to Ethiopia and to a refugee camp in Kenya, Deng was resettled in the United States at the age of 15. Now, already having earned a master s degree in business administration, Deng is in law school and also works as an employment specialist at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, MI helping African refugees. Q: Were you with your family when you left Sudan? A: [I was] not [with] my family. My family [was] in the village and I worked in the cattle camp at the time. The cattle camp and the village were attacked separately and we were forced to flee to different directions. My parents [fled] south towards Uganda and I [fled] east [toward] Ethiopia. So I was separated [from] them. I was with my cousin; he was 11 years old at the time. Q: What happened when you got to Ethiopia? A: When we got to Ethiopia, we crossed the Gila River, [which] is one of the most dangerous and highly infested rivers in Ethiopia. And I would say maybe in Africa, at large. A lot of our guys lost their lives in the waters, either eaten by crocodiles or drowned. We had to cross that river [to get to] Ethiopia. And then we just had to settle down there and build our own huts by ourselves. At the time, there was no U.N. [United Nations]. There was no one around. We were in the jungle. And we are far away from the cities in Ethiopia that really [made] it a little difficult for us. Q: What happened after you were in Ethiopia? A: War broke out in Ethiopia, and no one wanted us to be there. So we were actually chased at gunpoint back to Sudan and we had to cross the same river again. This time, we were heading to Kenya. This was about 2,000 miles [3,219 kilometers] from where we were at the river. [Going] from Sudan to Ethiopia and then to Kenya took almost a year. Q: How did you survive? A: Basically, it was through my cousin and also the faith that I [had] and the hope. Those were the ones that I was relying on. I was still hoping that things would get better one day; the war is going to be over and I will [be able to] return back to my homeland. And at the same time, I had to eat what everyone was eating either being leaves or anything. [I tried not to] think about my parents because the minute [I would] do that, I would lose hope. [I was] just hoping that I will make it. That s what makes [hope] alive. Just pray things like that. Q: What was life like in the refugee camp? A: When I arrived in the refugee camp I was turning 5 years old. The life [in the camp] was not good. It was terrible. In the camp, we didn t have enough [for] basic needs. At the same time, we wanted to go to school. [But] if you don t have anything to eat, there s no way that you can go to school. And there was a lot of sickness. Basically, all of the life was not good in the refugee camp, and I was in the camp for nine-and-a-half years. Q: What year did you and your cousin leave Kenya for the United States? A: It was in November 2000 and I was turning 15. Q: Who sponsored you? A: I was sponsored by Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They located a foster family [for me and] I stayed with them until I turned 18. They were really good. They were like parents. Q: Describe your arrival in the United States. A: It was wintertime and I [hadn t experienced] winter before. I m talking about snow. It was real cold. I saw they were holding my name on a small poster board. I came out and then I saw my name and I came to them. I introduced myself and I was the right person that they were waiting for and they had a big jacket and other clothes to wear. And then I had to put those ones on and we went to the car so we could go home. I was really excited to meet them. Q: After so many years of being on the run, how did it feel to finally have a stable home? A: It feels good. The security is good over here. At the same time, you still have that feeling that you want to do something [for] the place that you left. I still feel that I have to work harder. I have to help in some way. Q: How did you achieve so much in such a short time? A: I think the thing that you have to remember is make sure you don t lose your vision. And those were the visions, the objectives that I set aside for myself. It was harder going there. But at the same time, the way that I ve done it is to make sure you re studying how to achieve things. You have to plan, then you have to prepare yourself for it and then you have to proceed without being instructed by other actors in the environment or in the community. So those are the ways to approaching it and that s how I approached them: not [to] lose your vision. And then you have to know how to go about it. A lot of people don t share those kind of visions or get lost somehow on the way. But again, it s a personal way of doing things. Excerpts from an article originally posted on October 18, 2010 to Mosaiko website,

3 A defining moment with [my foster son] was when I was having breakfast with him and he said, Mom, I am happy. I have a mom, a dad, brothers, sisters, a church, and no soldiers. frequently asked questions Who are the youth? Youth are typically ages 13 17, approximately 60 percent male, and most are from African and Central American countries. Children younger than 13 are rare, and usually arrive with older siblings. Why are they coming to the United States? They have been separated from their families due to war, poverty, abuse, or community violence and are seeking safety. In many cases, their parents may have died or are no longer able to care for them. Others are victims of sex trafficking. What are the long-term goals for the youth? The youth work to heal from past trauma while they pursue goals of learning English, getting an education, and preparing for a future of independence. Who can become a foster parent? Bethany is seeking caring and committed foster parents who are willing to open their homes to minors in need. Foster families come from a variety of backgrounds and include families with small children, families whose kids are grown, and both one- and two-parent families. How does Bethany support foster parents? You will be assigned a Bethany caseworker to provide ongoing support and services. Bethany will also provide specialized training on parenting youth from other cultures and you can be matched with experienced foster parents who will act as mentors. In addition, you will receive a daily stipend to cover the costs of an additional family member, as well as medical insurance for the youth. What would be my role as a foster parent? Provide a safe and supportive home environment Offer emotional support while managing the youth s behavior Provide transportation for education, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities Be willing to learn about the youth s culture and incorporate it in your home Provide opportunities for youth to establish meaningful, lifelong relationships Assist the youth in planning for their future Have more questions? To learn more, contact our office to register for a free, no-commitment orientation meeting.

4 I asked my foster son the other day, What would you be doing if you were in Honduras right now? He said, I d be dead. How can you not get involved and help these kids? History of Refugee & Immigrant Foster Care Bethany Refugee & Immigrant Foster Care welcomes the first group of 37 unaccompanied minors from Sudan Bethany joins with Programs Assisting Refugee Acculturation (PARA), a Church World Services Affiliate, to provide resettlement to refugee families The number of clients from Sudan and Honduras reaches a new high with 86 clients from Sudan and 22 from Honduras Bethany s unaccompanied minors from Myanmar (Burma) increases dramatically from 30 in 2007 to 100 in 2008 The Transitional Living Center (TLC) group home opens to serve older male youth as they transition to independent living The number of clients from Honduras and Guatemala reaches a new high with 46 clients from Honduras and 41 from Guatemala A shelter opens to provide temporary care for teenage males mostly coming from Central America Bethany begins placing youth from the Division of Unaccompanied Children s Services Program, which serves youth primarily from Central America and Mexico The Casa Agape program begins to provide more intensive services for youth, who have been survivors of traumatic life incidents, coming through Unaccompanied Minors program The largest population of overseas youth comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo

5 refugee and immigrant FOSTER CARE orientation schedule Remember this is your job as a foster parent: Love even if it is not returned. Be a safe place. Plant seeds of love and faith and pray like crazy that God will bless and grow your child. learn more Join us for one of the orientation sessions listed below where you will learn about Bethany Christian Services Refugee Foster Care program, the youth we serve, and hear from an experienced refugee foster parent. Attending an orientation is free and requires no commitment January 6 February 2 March 7* April 6 May 5 June 1 July 7 August 3 September 8 October 10* November 3 December 7 TIME: 6:00 8:00 p.m. * 10:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. LOCATION: th Street SE Grand Rapids, MI Meal will be provided. Please RSVP by calling DIRECTIONS: From 131 Exit 131at 36th Street. Go East on 36th Street about 2 miles. The Refugee office is located on the right just beyond Eastern Avenue. 28th St th St 36th St Clyde Park Ave Division Ave Eastern Ave REFUGEE SERVICES Kalamazoo Ave 44th St LEARN MORE. CONTACT US TODAY Bethany Christian Services GR.340.PKT.11749

6 They (refugee foster youth) want what all of us want. They want a good stable home, loving environment, good education. They want good jobs; to raise a family. Everything we want. It s been a real honor and privilege to be able to be involved in their lives. country profiles Honduras Honduras suffers from very high rates of poverty, gang violence, and both human and drug trafficking. Corruption in government and law enforcement enables these social ills to continue. To escape oppression, many leave their homes and flee to the U.S. For some, this journey is voluntary; for others, the journey is forced through human trafficking. These youth are often found by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) at the U.S./Mexico Border or once in the country, where they are referred to a program such as Refugee & Immigrant Foster Care at Bethany Christian Services, where we provide foster care and family reunification services. Currently the Refugee Foster Care Program is serving many youth from Honduras, as well as many others fleeing similar hardships from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been ravaged by violence from various tribal groups, tension with neighboring countries, and the power struggle between those entities and foreign corporations over control of the country s rich natural resources. Enslavement, brutality, murder, and rape have sadly been commonplace and corruption in leadership, poverty, and a poor infrastructure have only fueled the violence. It is estimated that more than five million people have died due to violence, lack of treatment for easily treatable diseases, or malnutrition, making this the most deadly conflict since World War II. Because of the war, the people have fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries. From these camps and through the United Nations, families and unaccompanied refugee minors are eligible to be resettled in other countries such as the United States.

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