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ComUnidade went to the USA to learn about the latest refugee sponsorship program

We traveled to the USA to learn in detail about the Welcome Corps program, as well as the many organizations, stakeholders and sponsors who work to make the private sponsorship program successful in the country.

Welcome Corps is a consortium of entities that develops and promotes private sponsorship. This is the most recent program, having started in January of this year. From then on, citizens over 18 year old can now sponsor and co-sponsor refugees, supporting their integration for 90 days. In addition to this program, there is the Welcome Corps Campus dedicated to supporting refugees as academic students, at universities, for 12 months.

We were very well received by the IRIS organization that supports refugee integration, being a sponsorship support organization. In this context, we explored the fantastic work of the private sponsorship, communication and fundraising team. It was possible for us to learn about the work of the Community Sponsorship Hub (CHS), especially in the area of dissemination. CSH is the organization responsible for supporting the consortium, managing and supporting the various partner entities. We also got to know the work of HIAS, a Jewish agency that has been promoting refugee sponsorship since the crisis in Afghanistan in 2021 and has since then managed to support more than 131 Afghans through 32 sponsoring groups. Their work in disseminating the program and mobilizing and retaining sponsors is remarkable. We also discovered the work that Church World Service and the Refugee Welcome Collective have been developing, especially in terms of supporting groups and preparing them for the transition to autonomy. In addition to learning about the American program, we were able to contact the team from the original Canadian program, who shared the history of this program that serves as a model for the rest of the world, as well as good practices.

We got to know the work and the incredible team at IRIS.

We also had the opportunity to meet some sponsor groups that are supporting refugee families in the area. One of the groups, the Hamden Area Refugee Resettlement Task Force (HARRT), has been very active, having some sponsors already supported a Syrian family, the group has already supported two Afghan families and is now supporting a Ukrainian family. We spoke to The Welcoming Project group, made up of more than 50 volunteers from two communities who are supporting a Syrian family. Another admirable example that we were able to see in person is the JCARR partnership, made up of six synagogues in the New Haven area and which, since 2015, has welcomed nine families.

This trip through the US sponsorship program was extremely important, allowing us to discover new realities, share experiences and learn good practices. It was an honor to be able to contact with such incredible organizations and people. A big thank you to all of them!

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