Resettled refugees tell their stories in Greenfield

Brawner told 22News the U.S. expects about 50,000 refugees this year, instead of 110,000 initially expected

GREENFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – Refugees told their resettlement stories at Greenfield Community College, Wednesday night. About a dozen people gathered to hear their stories of war, violence and mistreatment.

22News met Ishimwe Uwase, who was born in an East African refugee camp. In 2007, when she was 10 years old, she and her family left Africa and came to the U.S. to find a better life. “When we got the opportunity to come, my parents were just like this is the best thing for my children. Let me take them to the states, give them new opportunities, they’re going to have a chance at a better life here,” said Uwase. She now lives in Springfield with her four siblings and parents.

Basileus Zeno from Syria told 22News an attack in Damascas in July 2012 forced him and his wife to move the U.S. He said he never expected to stay here; “When I came I thought its a matter of a few days, a few months, like everyone else. Then AL-Qaeda emerged and then other more radicalized groups.”

Groups that forced both Zeno and his wife to stay in the U.S and obtain asylum. The couple was forced to start over, a similar story shared by the nearly 85,000 refugees that entered the country last year.

Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, the Executive Director of Catholic Charities, said these events are important; “For people to understand the stories behind the amount of pain and suffering that people are enduring. And places around the world where they don’t have the same types of freedoms.”

Brawner said President Donald Trump’s immigration bans have cut resettlement in half.

She also said Catholic Charities is helping the 15 refugees who were left homeless, after their Westfield home was destroyed in a fire last month. Brawner said the agency expects to find them permanent housing by the end of the month.