RAFT Welcomes Two Refugee Families from Syria

After months of preparation, RAFT (Refugee Assistance and Friendship Teams) has welcomed not one, but TWO refugee families.

The Support Team had been busy most of the summer collecting donations of furniture, clothing and other household items on the Apartment list provided by our partner organization, Refugee Focus. When we were ready, Refugee Focus gave us notice that the Radwan family would be our first sponsored family.

Core Team #1 mobilized, and met the family of six at the airport at 9 pm on July 27, 2016.The family, which has 4 children age 8 and younger, had been traveling for three days and were exhausted, but happy, to be at their final destination. We held handwritten signs that said “Welcome” in both English and Arabic, and gave the children stuffed animals and water bottles.

Along with case worker, Jama, the trifaith team members posed with the family for a photo before driving them and their suitcases to their new apartment in Mesa.

The apartment, which was completely furnished by donations from PVUMC members, friends, and the trifaith community, was ready for their arrival after more than a week of hard work.

Keith Sobraske, liaison with Karen Ouzts for RAFT, ordered pizza, while Abeer, our primary Arabic speaker, and other team members showed the family their new apartment. Plans were made for Jama to return the next day, and work with the family over the next two weeks on job applications, school enrollments, and other paperwork. The Core Team will be notified as needs arise for transportation, etc., and will be available to help with their acculturation to the Phoenix area.

On Friday, July 29, RAFT welcomed a second family. Core Team #2 will be working with this family of four, who are housed at the same apartment complex as the Radwan family. There is some overlap of members.

Core Team #1 consists of Abeer Madafi, Maryam Tehranian, Keith Sobraske, Pam and Stu Selthun (and their girls), and Dave Ryan.

Core Team #2 consists of Abeer, Maryam, Keith, Sally Hecht, Karen Bloch, Roanne Wallace, and Jim Bateman.

The Support Team includes Pam Poley, Russ Mosser, Jeffrey and Linda (Brock) Heimer, Karen Bloch, Jack and Marcia Heller, and Nancy Splain. Rev. Andrea Andress and Rev. Eve Williams, as well as chair of the Mission Ministry Team, Don Wall, have been shepherding RAFT.

PVUMC’s Interfaith Initiative, the Missions Ministry Team, Salaam-Chai-Paradise, and Refugee Focus are partners in this new
program: Refugee Assistance and Friendship Teams or RAFT. If you would like to join RAFT, and be a member of a Core Team, email info@pvumc.org.

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