Forty-One

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We’ve got a number for you: 41.

That’s the number of new refugees who have joined us here in Northwest Arkansas since we last wrote an update in this space (in… April. Whoops). That’s 41 men, women and children in seven families who have come to call our community home in the last four months. They come from all over the world: Honduras, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine. They speak half a dozen different languages between them and come from every kind of vocational background. Twenty-eight of them are kids.

Four months ago, I don’t think any of us would have seen this coming: this burst of life and hope and new beginnings. It’s been amazing. It’s been overwhelming. If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve gotten a glimpse of what we’ve been up to, but we wanted to share some highlights here too:

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Our first refugee client is going to college! Heri graduated high school in Kenya with top grades—in Calculus, no less. And-- we kid you not--  he had barely set foot inside his new home in Fayetteville (at 11 o’clock at night) before he informed Francisco that he was going to be a civil engineer and would need to go to college. We got right on it and he is registered for classes at NWACC next month. We’re so proud and excited for him.

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On June 20th, the Masoka family slept with a proper roof over their heads for the first time in 28 years. They fled their country on a raft nearly three decades ago and have lived in a tent ever since. Mr. Masoka could scarcely believe it when his co-sponsor team from the LDS Church in Fayetteville Ward 1 handed him the keys to his apartment.  “Today […] after exactly 7962 days living as a refugee, my family and I have a key to an apartment...our home,” Mr. Masoka said.  “Tonight, for the first time since fleeing the Congo, we will be sleeping in our own beds – in our own house.”

           

Thanks to our amazing co-sponsors, all of our families have been having a blast experiencing all the best things about summer in America. They’ve been learning how to swim, trying snow cones for the first time, learning how to ride bikes, shooting off fireworks… And that’s just the stuff we have pictures of 😊

This summer has been rich, y’all. Thank you for making Northwest Arkansas such a wonderful place to call home.

P.S. If you like these kinds of updates, be sure and Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Instagram. We post this kind of stuff all the time there! But we promise we’ll do better with the updates here too.