By Maureen Cowhey '19
This semester, Scripps students are spearheading an initiative to host a Syrian refugee family under the Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR) organization.
The organization was started by Guilford College, a small liberal arts college in North Carolina, with the mission for privately funded educational institutions to aid in the resettlement of Syrian refugees. While governors can choose to defund or disband resettlement agencies, the ECAR emphasizes that it is crucial for private colleges to provide housing and resources to these families. A Syrian family has recently been resettled on the Guilford campus, the first college to house a family.
While many nations throughout the world have refugees, the Syrian refugee crisis has been ongoing since 2011 due to civil war. According the ECAR website, fewer than 50 percent of Syrians are currently living in their homes. The conflict based on power struggles between different ethnic groups has lead to large numbers of civilian causalities, displacement, destruction and terror in Syria and throughout the Middle East. Many Syrian refugees are placed into camps in Jordan and Turkey, while others attempt to flee to Europe. The ECAR website states:
“Because resettlement is obligatory and costly to the countries of refuge, they have little investment in ensuring the wellbeing of refugees on their journeys to safety and many die in transit. Those who do make it are faced with few employment opportunities, hostility, sparse resettlement accommodations provided by their new countries, and other difficulties of transition.”
The process at Scripps to house a refugee family has not been as simple and quick as the process that Guilford underwent. Students have been working through the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and a resettlement agency to provide the resources and housing necessary to help a family. Noor Hamdy ’18, leader of the project on the Claremont campuses, explained the complicated logistics and the lack of help that Guilford has provided. According to Hamdy, Scripps was the only 5C administration supportive of the initiative; however, it will even be difficult for the Scripps administration to provide housing, food or money due to liability and legal reasons. Hamdy is meeting with the other three Syrian refugee families in the Claremont area to see how their resettlement process was and to provide help if needed.
Hamdy is still hopeful to receive a family on campus or in nearby housing by fall 2016. If the logistics work out, students would help settle the family and provide tutoring, babysitting, help running errands and professional help in finding and securing a job. Hamdy explained that families are only given 90 days in the resettlement period to find jobs and places to live with a very small stipend to live off of. By providing small services and financial assistance, Scripps can help make the resettlement process a lot easier.
In addition to housing a family, Hamdy and others working on the initiative are working to set up a conference in the fall to educate the colleges and the surrounding community on the refugee crisis, the families and the difficulties of the housing process. By bringing in government officials and other community members, she hopes to help make the housing process easier for future refugee families.
Hamdy explained that the initiative is ongoing and always looking for help. For more information on how to get involved, contact Noor Hamdy at firstname.lastname@example.org or through facebook messenger. As the process is ongoing and changing each week, look for future articles about the progress of the initiative to host a Syrian refugee family at Scripps.
Made a few other changes according to Noor including adding her email and changing her graduation year.