Social Issues

Reneé Lushaj on challenges of resettling Ukrainian refugees

Stoughton Resettlement Assistance Program Co-Director Reneé Lushaj details difficulties related to work and language barriers families fleeing war in Ukraine face as they make new homes in Wisconsin.

By Steven Potter | Here & Now

February 20, 2023 • South Central Region

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Reneé Lushaj
Yeah, there have been some very significant challenges. One of the families had a child who had some pretty significant medical issues. Thankfully the baby is stable now and he's doing well. Work challenges have been difficult. We're finally getting through those, and it helped significantly that Biden was able to offer that anyone who comes through the United for Ukraine connection would be able to work right away with the I94. That's helped a lot. I think what hasn't been challenging is really the community support and the embrace that I think all the families have really received in Stoughton, and in the surrounding areas and communities that have really helped them feel welcome, and also helped us give them everything they need. So we've appreciated that substantially. But yes, I think one of the biggest challenges that they've faced is learning the language barrier, so learning English. There are many people who come in and they do know the language already, part of it at least, and some who they've had to study a lot more. But recently we started the English as a second language classes, which we had a volunteer offer to bring that together for us, and that has been really outstanding. That started about two weeks ago, and they meet on Tuesday and Thursday nights every week at a church, at Saint Ann's Catholic Church here in Stoughton. That's been a really big support and that's been really helpful. I think the other really big challenge for them is just watching their country, and really just continue to be pummeled by everything that they're dealing with, and we wish so desperately we could help them or change that, but all we can do is help one person at a time.

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