The Extended family pictured here have been on the path of resettlement here at my home in Connecticut since early this year, and I thought I would ask them a few questions about their experience. But first, I cannot say enough positive things about this family: they are such a help to me, such a comfort to have living next to me. They are friendly, hard-working, generous and really amazing to be managing so well with 4 small bedrooms in their not-so-roomy side of the house. I asked these questions:
What was your biggest fear about resettling in the US?
Mr. B- There was no fear once we made up our minds that we must do this, but once we saw how expensive and difficult it is to get housing, then there was some doubt about whether we did the right thing.
What was surprising for you about the US?
Mr B jr- That I didn’t feel afraid and there is no theft always happening, other than that it was not a big culture shock for me.
What was the biggest adjustment for you when you came?
Mrs. B- The adjustments will come soon, in the future when we leave and start to work. Covid has made our lives limited in many ways so we have not been as active. In our minds, the adjustment is ahead rebuilding the things we have lost because we had to leave South Africa. The home and security will take time to regain.
What do you like best about America?
9 y/o daughter- You can walk down the street without anyone killing you, and you can go to the park.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
Mrs. V- You are asking the wrong person that question, Auntie Shelly, I miss nothing.
What do you not like about America?
5 y/o son- The Cold!
I am glad that it looks like the young family will be headed to a warmer state soon to put down roots and build their life together. I grew up with the harsh Michigan winters and am growing quite weary of the cold myself. I am hoping to make a move soon to a place with shorter winters and a longer growing season. I will be looking for a roomier house to split into 2 or 3 private living spaces to accommodate South African families. My dog Tiny and I will have a teepee down the road. You must imagine it before you can make it happen , I hear.
But seriously, for the South African families coming to the US, housing is the hardest hurdle to get over. When you have no credit here, no employment history here, no rental history and no Americans to give personal references, how is it possible? Some can be helped by family already here but the majority that I speak to still in South Africa have no family here to help them get started. Those who arrive with personal savings they have changed from Rand to US dollars will see their money shrink to nothing very quickly if they can get into a rental. It is a harsh way to start life here.
It now takes a full year for them to get their Employment Authorization Documents and there are very few families who could make it through that year without some help-of temporary free housing. Please consider donating if you have read this.. Thank you