Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘MORE’

Refugees in Minnesota deal with possible state government shutdown

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 28, 2011

While Minnesota legislators refuse to meet the governor half way on funding state government, and continue to busy themselves with press conferences — repeating positions made at dozens of earlier press conferences — refugees in Minnesota fear for the worst. A state government shutdown could occur this Friday. A Twin Cities Daily Planet article has more:

Day Wah sees the alarm on their faces and hears it in the voices of many of the refugees she works with. They fear this thing called a government shutdown all out of proportion.

“They worry they will have to go and live on the street,” or something worse, Wah tells me, a slight Karen woman with the important job of translating the strange customs and realities of the world we know as Minnesota to the Karen, refugees from Burma, for a program called MORE Multicultural School for Empowerment in St. Paul.

All they know is the news of a possible “government shutdown” that comes to their mailboxes on official government white paper in foreign, black-lettered words.

“They worry. Some people [do] not sleep all night; they cry.” They stockpile food, wonder how they’ll pay their rent or for medical care, says Wah, 27, who came to the United States about four years ago from a refugee camp in Thailand...

In the afternoon, 16 people, including Hmong and Karen translators and an English teacher, gathered…

“We’re meeting because we’re hearing a lot of questions and a lot of worry about the government closing down for awhile. We want to talk about it,” began Sister Stephanie Spandl, a social worker with the program and a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. A nonprofit had to explain what the government had not…

MORE can help, she said, providing free bread and other food on Fridays, clothes on Saturdays and advocacy help other days. She suggested people help each other, too, by forming babysitting coops, for instance, so they can continue going to work or school, that they use emergency food shelves if food stamp payments are unavailable…

Some small businesses such as those providing foreign-language translators or personal-care attendants might have to close temporarily, she explained. Enlist friends to help if possible, she advised.

“You’re not going to lose your housing right away” if you can’t pay rent, she said. Turn first to family or friends to see if they can lend you money, and if that doesn’t work, try talking to your landlord promising to pay as soon as you receive your housing assistance.

For medications, see if the pharmacy will issue next month’s prescription now. (MORE might be able to help with that, too, [MORE's executive director Cathy] Patterson said.)

If you’re sick, go to your doctor, Sandl advised. Most likely the doctor will care for you, trusting he or she will eventually receive state reimbursement, she said. “If the doctor says ‘no,’ go the E.R.”… Read more here

**UPDATE** — June 29, 2011 – MPR reports that judge orders “core” services to continue (food stamps and refugee cash assistance will remain available if MN state government shuts down).

**UPDATE** July 7, 2011 – Refugee advocates ask for resumption — during state government shutdown — of translation/interpretation services for new arrivals who do not speak English.

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