Catholic Charities Welcomes Refugee Family

by Lucy Medvec, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

There is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement of someone arriving at the airport –  the smiles and hugs at the gate, along with the happiness of being home and being with family.  Last April, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) had the unique opportunity to help welcome a refugee family of four from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as they arrived in Louisiana.  In conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services program, CCNLA has worked to ensure this family has properly resettled and adjusted to their new home.

The journey of Lian Sut Khai began in 2009 when he attempted to come to the United States to be with his mother, her husband, and Lian’s siblings. He wanted to leave Myanmar because it was a time when Christians were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.  Before he was able to leave, he met and married his wife, Niang En Lun, which delayed the resettlement process.  While they were still waiting to come to the United States, they had two children, now ages 4 and 2.  After four years of time spent at a refugee camp in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, they successfully arrived in Shreveport on April 5.  Since their arrival, this family has been welcomed into a Burmese community in Bossier City, receiving help in securing housing, employment and other resources.

CCNLA has played a role in the resettlement process by enrolling the adults in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, providing transportation as needed, registering the family for eligible state benefits, and offering information on cultural orientation.  Case managers also work with them by providing information on personal safety and public rules and issues.

Meg Goorley, executive director of CCNLA, explained, “Reuniting this young family with their relatives is important to the organization’s mission of bringing Christ’s love to the poor and vulnerable.  In working with the USCCB, we have been able to provide the resources necessary to help them become a part of our community.”

This is the first refugee family that CCNLA has worked to resettle.  While the timing of any future resettlement of refugees is unknown, Catholic Charities is honored to continue to serve immigrants and refugees already living in our communities throughout North Louisiana.

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