Over the past three years members of Restoration have developed ongoing, supportive relationships with three refugee families from Syria and Iraq. We asked Tori Mathe to share her experience helping the Alkeam family adapt to life in America. Tori has been a part of Restoration since our founding. In addition to participating on a refugee team, you may have seen her serving as a chalice bearer or on our altar care team. Here are Tori’s responses to our questions about serving a refugee family.
Q. What do you with refugee family you serve?
A. I am friends with the Alkeam family, the newest of the 3 families Restoration has wrapped its arms around. They have 5 children (3 girls, 2 boys), the oldest going into 6th and the youngest into 1st grade. I have helped them acclimate to the US in the two years they’ve been here. They are the only family we help that’s technically not refugees as they were granted asylum. While I’ve helped them with various paperwork and introduced them to holidays like Halloween and Christmas, my focus is to help the children succeed in our educational system. Without advocates, their needs were not being met in school. Getting them on grade level and, hopefully, to college someday, is my goal.
Q. How did you get involved originally?
A. My involvement began because my son had recently earned his drivers license. There was a search going on for a brave soul who would teach Noor, the mother, how to drive. We began driving twice a week for what turned into months. Two license tests in Corsicana, Texas, later, she did it! This family was the next-door neighbor to the Allezaldeens, a family we were also assisting. Once we realized the needs of the Alkeam family were not being met, Restoration developed a team to walk with them and I slid into that immediately.
Q. What has motivated to you to continue this work?
A. I’ve remained committed to this family because I want to see the children succeed. This family is uniquely positioned to have scholastic success because they were all in elementary school when they arrived in the US. I believe if I continue to advocate for them with the schools and teachers, they will be positioned to go to college.
Q. Are there current or upcoming projects that Restoration would be able to support you in?
A. This summer I am reading with the kids, working on math tables and preparing the oldest to enter middle school. We are looking for indoor summer entertainment for the kids. Board games, paints, crafts, LEGO, puzzles, or other non electronic games. If you have any items (or gift cards) for 5 kids, we would love them! At the end of summer, we will need to purchase supplies and uniforms. Look for ways to donate at the end of July.
Q. Are there ways that people at Restoration can join your team?
A. We would also like the Alkeam’s to eventually move closer to us as they live near Eastfield College now. If someone understood (would be willing to investigate) how to register for affordable housing in local areas and keep a consistent eye out, we would love to get the family on some waiting lists.
If you would like to help the Alkeam family or another refugee family please let us know.