Jeremiah stood in front of the door, looking down at the keys in his hand.
“Go on in. This is your home now.”
My home. It was almost too much for Jeremiah to take in. It had been 23 years since he had had a home. Twenty-three years since his family had slept in an actual building with a door and a roof. Twenty-three years since he had held the keys to anything, since anything had been his.
He slowly unlocked the door and stepped inside, his wife and 8 children following behind. It was clean and warmly furnished. There were beds in every room, clothes in every closet. And all of it—every spoon, chair and sock—were theirs.
At long last, Jeremiah and his family were home.
We take it for granted, but for a refugee family, having a home is life-changing. A permanent, safe place just for you, that is yours to come back to, yours to decorate, yours to live in for as long as you like. It’s a radical, beautiful gift. On average, a refugee family will wait 17 years for their chance at a home. Many will wait out those long years with only a tarp over their heads, with jerry cans of water in the corner to cook with and bathe with and a mat on the floor as a bed for the children. And all the while, they will wonder if their camp will be attacked, if their children will survive the year, if their food rations will be the same next month or if they’ll have to make do with less. So for those who make it, for those who last the long wait and clear the medical screening and pass the background checks, the simple gift of home changes everything.
A lot goes into creating a home for a refugee family. It usually involves dozens of people from all across the community and starts months before the family arrives. First, Canopy recruits and trains a co-sponsor team for the family. Then, the co-sponsors get to work collecting furniture, fundraising and planning for the family’s arrival. Once Canopy receives the family’s travel info, it’s a mad rush to find an apartment and get it cleaned and furnished in time for the family’s arrival; usually, we all only have about 2 weeks’ notice, but the co-sponsors leap right into action and always do an incredible job! Then, the day of the family’s arrival, our case manager runs through the apartment one last time to make sure everything is ready, the co-sponsors cook up a hot meal for the family and then everyone heads up to the airport to welcome the refugees to their new home.
To date, with the help of our incredible community, we have been able to provide 125 refugees with a safe, comfortable place to call home here in Arkansas. Of course the physical dwelling itself is only the beginning-- refugee resettlement is so much more than a roof and a bed-- but for a family that has known nothing but a tent for the last decade, it is an incredible gift.
Help Canopy continue to give the gift of home to all the refugee families who will arrive in 2019.
Our average family’s rent for one month is $600. This week, we’re looking for 14 people or groups to give that amount— one for every household we resettled in 2018. But if you can’t give that much, give what you can! Every contribution makes a difference.