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Refugees Thankful To Be In Connecticut

Cassandra Basler
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy speaks at a meeting of refugee aid workers and members of the Jewish community at the JCC of Greater New Haven on Tuesday. Wafaa, far left, is a refugee from Syria, who is now living with her family in Connecticut.

This week, Syrian refugees living in Connecticut met with Governor Dannel Malloy, refugee agency workers and volunteers from the Jewish community at a meeting at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven. They thanked leaders for welcoming them to the United States this year.

About 60 Syrian families have settled in Connecticut in the past year. Wafaa’s family is one of them. She arrived with her husband and three of her kids in March and spoke no English. Now, Wafaa says she’s thankful for the Danbury community that has helped her learn.

“I’m very thankful with everybody. I’m very happy everything to my family. Thank you very much.”

Wafaa says she went to three job interviews in a day and got hired with her English skills. Karen Foster and Danbury Area Refugee Assistance helped her get there.

“Our co-sponsor group has volunteers that have helped the family, and they’ve gone and done English tutoring with the family one on one. And Wafaa has practiced on her own and she’s really worked very hard to learn English so that not only she can get a job but so she can go to the grocery store and do things on her own,” Foster says.

Governor Malloy reflected on the Syrian family that came to Connecticut last fall after being turned away from Indiana. That family could not attend because the mother was in college English class, the son was in school and the father was at work.

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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