Like thousands of other evacuees, Nema Bora Balibonera fled from the rising water during Hurricane Harvey with nothing but the clothes she was wearing. It was eerily similar the way her family fled the Congo, arriving in the US with nothing just seven months ago.
The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services (Alliance) helped them find housing and provided furniture and clothing to begin rebuilding their lives in the U.S. A new home and household belongings were a symbol of hope and new beginning. Now the future looks uncertain.
Bora Balinonera and her family of eight were brought to the temporary shelter at NRG on Wednesday. She’s unsure the condition of her apartment and all of their belongings. In addition, rent is due but Hurricane Harvey caused her husband and two of their adult children to miss an entire week of work. To make matters worse, those missed wages have caused them to be short on the rent and English is not her first language.
Alliance is providing Bora Balinonera and hundreds of other refugees with information on the resources available in their native language. “Our specialized case management teams, speaking 26 languages, are supported by the Alliance Language Network unit offering interpretation and translation services in over 70 languages,” said Daniel Stoecker, Alliance for Multicultural Community Services CEO. “Most of our 70 staff and additional 160 experienced interpreters are former refugees, so they understand firsthand how frightening and overwhelming this experience can be,” he added.
Among the 30,000 people displaced from their homes are hundreds of refugee still with limited English abilities. Temporary solutions like shelters or staying with friends provides uncertainty and stress to a population that has already endured unimaginable trauma in their home countries. “During Hurricane Harvey the organization’s goal is to provide our clients with whatever short term emergency support them may need to continue working towards long term self-sufficiency,” said Stoecker.
Refugee clients are particularly vulnerable to crisis events due to lack of language skills, ability to navigate resources, or residing in neighborhoods especially prone to flooding. To donate to The Alliance for Multicultural Community Services Disaster Relief Fund and helps clients like Bora Balinonera, please click here.