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2 min read

A Warm Welcome: Safety and connection for Belkis

In the last few years, we’ve served a growing number of immigrants and refugees from Venezuela in our shelters at UGM. The country suffers from a socioeconomic and political crisis spanning more than a decade. Though our local guests experience various forms of instability and lack relational connections, people like Belkis and her son face unique barriers such as language and cultural differences. 


 

Belkis

Belkis and her adult son left her beloved Venezuela to find employment, shelter, and safety in the United States. The country which had previously had so much to offer them had become unlivable. “There was not enough food, medicine, or jobs. We were afraid for our lives. The insecurity we felt was unbearable!” Belkis had been a licensed administrator, and her son had been a lawyer, but those professions were lost. They had to leave.  

 

“There was not enough food, medicine, or jobs. We were afraid for our lives.”  

 

They arrived in Spokane six months ago. Belkis’ son had been offered a job here, but when they called, there was no answer. They were forced to live in their car for about a month, waiting to see if another job would turn up. But when no jobs turned up, they decided to come to UGM. He went to the Men’s Shelter and Belkis came to the UGM’s Crisis Shelter for Women and Children
 

 


Finding safety and a supportive community

A huge concern for refugees is the daunting task of learning English to gain employment. Here at UGM, Belkis was pleased to be working in the kitchen, where they taught her words for food and cooking. “I also teach them Spanish words for what they want to know! Being with Americans all the time is so helpful.”  

Meal-Photo

Belkis found the community at UGM to be highly supportive. The staff located classes for her at the Adult Education Center, and the guests helped her with pronunciation and homework. She said she found everyone to be friendly. “They all know my name and say, ‘Hello!’” 

 

“People have said to me, ‘At your age, it’s impossible to learn another language!’ I believe that it can be done.”  

 

She grew and learned at an incredible rate and the shelter staff can’t say enough about her positive attitude. “I received 100% on my level one exam! English is so important for me to learn. People have said to me, ‘At your age, it’s impossible to learn another language!’ I believe that it can be done. I repeat in my mind, ‘I can do it. I can do it!’ Attitude is so important.” 
 

 

God’s gifts, big and small

Belkis expressed she's thankful to be alive and to have recently been able to see the first real snowfall of her life. She says, “God is most important in my life because He provides everything!” Soon after making this faithful remark, Belkis was able to move into an apartment her son was able to obtain, offering a sense of stability—and a sense of home—for them once again.

We pray blessings over Belkis as she continues her English education and prepares a way forward. Without gifts and care from local community members like yourself, this story of renewed hope would only be a dream to this mother and son.

 

 

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