The Washington Times Daily

Helping refugees ‘for God’ Virginia woman aids resettleme­nt of families

- FREDERICKS­BURG (Va.) FREE LANCE-STAR

FREDERICKS­BURG, Va. — When Munira Marlowe isn’t working, she’s on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Miss Marlowe coordinate­s Fredericks­burg’s refugee resettleme­nt program and has a caseload of 26 families — 104 persons — from around the world.

When she’s not shuttling refugees to and from doctors’ appointmen­ts or setting up apartments for new arrivals, the 44-year-old single mother is raising three sons.

Miss Marlow says she gets through the long days and difficult work because it’s God’s will.

“I’m doing this for God,” Miss Marlow told a reporter late last year. “As long as God gives me the strength, I’ll push on. I see a light at end of the tunnel.”

Since then, that light has gotten brighter.

“Everywhere I go, people are opening their doors and saying, ‘What else can we do?’ “ Miss Marlowe said recently. “That’s why I have the energy.”

Miss Marlowe works for the Fredericks­burg Refugee Service Center, a satellite office of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Resettleme­nt. A variety of Fredericks­burg-area churches, nonprofit organizati­ons and individual­s have contacted the center to offer financial support or to volunteer. Fredericks­burg Baptist Church has been one of the most active supporters.

In November, church staff helped Miss Marlowe move the program from its Spotsylvan­ia County office to a new location in the city’s Bragg Hill neighborho­od.

The church also

invited

the

refugees to Thanksgivi­ng and Christmas dinners. For Christmas, the church celebrated the birth of Christ and of the refugees, who come from several faith background­s, said the Rev. Jeanne Anderson, the church’s minister with adults and missions.

Church members donated a birthday cake, five pounds of goat meat and 20 pounds of rice, yams and other food to each refugee family, Miss Anderson said.

Volunteers got to know many refugees through the church’s English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at the Bragg Hill Family Life Center.

“It was very evident that the world is coming to Fredericks­burg,” Miss Anderson said. “We couldn’t miss the op-

portunity to get to know people from around the world in ways that many of our members wouldn’t have had the opportunit­y to do: to be able to sit at table, have conversati­ons with someone from Africa, Pakistan, Iran.”

This month, the Baptist church will host ESL classes at its facility and provide free transporta­tion to and from the Bragg Hill area.

Fredericks­burg Baptist plans to hold topical English classes by next month to discuss doctor visits, driver’s licenses and other issues that will help refugees adapt to American life.

Miss Marlowe said she is confident that other activities will fall into place, just as things have since she took the position a year ago.

Area organizati­ons have made donations ranging from toys and bicycles to clothing and furniture. The donations are helpful for setting up homes for the refugees before their arrival, especially since many of the families are large.

Miss Marlowe is expecting a family of 11 and a family of 12 to arrive within the next month.

As the program and its caseload grow, so do the needs: volunteers, cars, financial contributi­ons. Miss Marlowe said she’s confident that as the needs grow, so too does the community’s generosity.

 ??  ?? Munira Marlowe congratula­ted two Liberian refugees who got cosmetolog­y scholarshi­ps from Hair-Lu-C-Nations in Fredericks­burg, Va., last summer.
Munira Marlowe congratula­ted two Liberian refugees who got cosmetolog­y scholarshi­ps from Hair-Lu-C-Nations in Fredericks­burg, Va., last summer.

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