WHY CARE ABOUT PRERNA?
In my humble beginnings of volunteering while living in Phoenix, Arizona, I started interacting with refugee families. It wasn't long before I realized that several gaps existed from the actual onboarding phase to the journey of making a refugee's life sustainable or even comfortable.
I always believed that people prefer to take care of their families and would rather be taught "how to fish" than be "fed fish” or given donation checks. I'm sure there are those who want to just live off freebies in the world. However, you'll be surprised how hardworking most refugees are. Based on their cultural backgrounds of perseverance and integrity as a path to success, they work very hard to rebuild their lives. Through my engagements with these families who live in common low-income housing areas, it was clear that they receive legal assistance to enter the country. However, once settled, the real journey seems to be quite a lonely path without much support from the heavily resource-constrained system.
This is where PRERNA steps in. We have a program that has been proven successful since 2007. At the core, we believe in empowering refugees to be independent, constructive citizens of society. We start them on a few critical steps: You, Your Family, Your Home and Your Community.
The focus on "You" starts with gathering a complete status of each family member, their health, living conditions, hygiene and sanitation habits. We help them understand the basics of how they can take care of themselves, their family and their home in their new community.
PRERNA supplies refugee families with a basic household kit that includes kitchenware, utensils, furniture and cleaning supplies so they become well-oriented with the tools and appliances within a typical American home.
After making certain that the family has a clean and healthy place to stay, PRERNA focuses on understanding each family member’s skills, education and work experience based on their backgrounds and country of origin. PRERNA then provides adults with access to conversational English language classes and local youth are involved as mentors. We also ensure all children are admitted to public schools and young adults are enrolled in community colleges. As needed, volunteers provide additional tutoring to children with basic English curriculum lessons and give advanced students special attention in math and science subjects.
Ultimately, it’s about helping adults prepare for recruitment and gain employment. We also encourage women to become involved with stitching and other income-generating activities that they can do at home. Sometimes, we assist them with working in a community vegetable garden or even setting up one in their patio. These efforts will help the newcomers determine how their future needs will evolve and play out.
As part of their cultural assimilation, PRERNA connects refugees to proficient English speakers so they can converse confidently and learn about any etiquette and cultural differences in the U.S. Now and then, PRERNA volunteers and clients will travel together on day trips and go to picnic spots to meet other local families. This helps build a sense of belonging for a new home far from their birthplace.
Every individual involved in PRERNA is a volunteer and I'm thrilled at the support and excited for the number of people who want to give their time, collaborate, partner or donate. They all make a difference in their special way. I invite you to join us as part of the PRERNA family and achieve a deeper sense of fulfillment through the simple task of creating true heartfelt smiles. Find out how you can get involved today.