Our Refugee Family

On March 28, 2017 Hamdi Abdi and her six children moved into their home in Cleveland to begin new lives in the United States. For Hamdi, this was the end of a long journey that started in Somalia 25 years ago. The day was full of anticipation, worry, excitement, curiosity, and exhaustion. 

Here in Oberlin, there was worry as well, on the part of the families who had agreed to help resettle the Abdis. Would the family make it in? Was their house ready to go? How would we ever communicate? But who are these families and how did they get involved in resettling refugees?

Ted Chmura first heard about parish refugee sponsorship from his brother, a Cleveland priest, and thought it would be a worthwhile project for Sacred Heart. Fr. Cole agreed, embracing the idea and suggesting

the Peace and Justice Committee head the effort. The committee was equally enthusiastic and immediately sought volunteers. Lori Taylor, Kathy Spencer, and the Prill and Chmura families answered the call. After being trained and vetted by Catholic Charities, they eagerly waited to be assigned a family.

At the refugee camp, Hamdi and her family were also waiting. After a thorough background investigation, the family was approved for resettlement by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They were referred to the Migration and Refugee Services of Cleveland Catholic Charities for placement.

In March, the call the volunteers were waiting for finally came: a family of seven was coming to Cleveland in six days. The volunteers quickly cleaned the Abdi home and, thanks to the generous donations of furniture, housewares and money from people both within the church and without, fully furnished it. Finally, the volunteers greeted the family at the airport to welcome them to the United States. 

Now, their role is to pay weekly visits to the Abdi family to help them adjust to their new surroundings. Equally important is the cultural exchange both cultures enjoy: the Sacred Heart volunteers learn about Somali traditions while the Abdi family learns about traditions in their adopted nation.

For the latest update about the family click HERE

If have questions about the family or would like to donate, please contact Ted Chmura (440-935-6601) or Lori Taylor (440-213-7991).

For more on living in Dadaab, see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/23/kenya-dadaab-refugee-camp-what-happens-when-it-closes-asad-hussein.

~Kelly Garriott Waite



 
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