For the nearly 50,000 refugees that came to the United States in 2007 (and the thousands that came before that), making it here is only the beginning of a long, hard, journey. The Association of Africans Living in Vermont is helping its 1,500-plus members make it here in the long run with innovative programming.
The challenge is significant. As Burlington-based newspaper Seven Days reports: "Having emigrated from refugee camps, AALV members are familiar with hardship. But a new life in Vermont isn't exactly a piece of cake: Roughly half live below the federal poverty line. In the winter, food budgets shrink as work in local hotels tapers off. The average size of an AALV family is five or six people, but primary earners only make about $9 per hour."
AALV recently launched two neat new programs to provide opportunities for its members: New Farms for New Americans and a new welding program. Providing economic opportunity is key to building a stable life for new Americans.
Please visit AALV online to learn more and to watch a video that brings to life the challenges Africans in Vermont are facing.
To find out more about refugees nationwide and how you could help, check out the Office of Refugee Resettlement as a start.