Refugee Assaulted/Family Must Move

Help refugee family secure safe housing following aggravated assault & robbery

As Mark and I have shared with many of you, we (along with several others) have been volunteering with a refugee family from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).  They were assigned housing in a very rough/unsafe neighborhood in Denver just off East Colfax. Local police describe the immediate area as "a hot mess."

Recently, the dad of this family of five was brutally assaulted and robbed in front of their house on his way back from the grocery store in the early evening after a fifty-hour workweek. Three men from the neighborhood attacked him, stole his wallet, and continued to beat him even after he was helpless on the ground.  The dad, covered in blood and barely recognizable, was hospitalized, suffered a concussion, had extensive bruising and required stiches. While hard to prove, we are certain this was a targeted hate crime and further believe his immediate neighbors were complicit in the attack.

As it was clearly not safe for them to continue to live at that location, the family moved in with Mark and I at our condo in Denver following the attack to ensure they were safe until we could find them appropriate and safe housing.  This wonderful family consists of mom and dad (a young couple in their late 20s), their toddler girl, their young boy with special needs, and grandma (who is deaf). After a week and a half of hosting this amazing, smart, resilient, funny and loving family, they moved into their new home just over a week ago. They are now in an apartment in a safe family oriented building/ neighborhood.

The move and assault/robbery have presented the family with significant and unexpected financial challenges.  The following are some of the unanticipated costs the family now faces: loss of security deposit at old apartment, rent at old apartment until it is leased again (due to breaking lease), new security deposit and unexpected additional ½ months rent at new place, moving truck/costs, loss of wages following assault (dad not able to work for some time), stolen cash, replacement of various items (bus pass, driving permit, work permit…), assistance with rent at new place for first several months until their low-income rent rate goes into effect, application/admin fee for new apartment, and various other associated costs.

For a little background - this family fled a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar three years ago following a surge of conflict in the region.  The family is ethnic Rohingya – a Muslim minority considered by the UN to be “the most persecuted ethnic group in the world.” The conflict in this region is intensifying and getting increased international media attention. The family was granted refugee status and arrived in Denver in May of this year.  We were fortunate enough to be matched with this amazing family by a non-profit refugee resettlement agency as ‘cultural mentors.’

In sum, we are seeking support for this family to help them offset the numerous costs they have incurred as a result of the assault and secure safe housing.  Additionally – we also are asking for assistance in helping the family pay-off the debt they incurred flying to the US.  Yes, something few people are aware of - all refugees as slapped with debt the moment they arrive in the US for the cost of their flight to get here. For this family of five this is an enormous amount of money  - considering they arrived with little more than a couple roller bags of clothing, some photos, and pocket change.

We want to help set this family up for success and give them a solid platform from which to become self-sufficient. Given the dad’s strong work ethic (he is currently working two jobs) and sense of integrity, and who whole family's desire to learn (English language, American customs, enrol in school...), we have no doubt this family is on the path to success.  But we feel a little support now will have exponential benefits for the family going forward. And we believe helping them with safe housing and relieving them of the burden of the debt of their airfare will go a long way toward their success. Any funds raised that exceed the goal will go toward supporting education (school supplies, resources for boy with special needs, pre-school school fees, an educational fund for the children…).

If you want to know of other ways to assist the wonderful and loving family (volunteer time, donate items, provide transport, advocate, additional financial assistance…), please Mark or I know.

Jen and Mark
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Rowers Rooting for Joanne 
Denver, CO
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