September 25, 2009

So…In my most recent/previous posts I have mentioned a few different events that I have gotten to attend this past week, but let me take a little bit of time to go ahead and explain more fully what’s been happening in my LIRS life:

Allocations (see post from September 24. 2009 entitled “Yesterday…”):

This past Wednesday I got to Penn Station in Baltimore at 7am and I met a great woman named Sarah from World Relief. We got on a train headed towards Washington DC/Union Station. On the way we met a woman named Sovanna that works for LIRS, she would be representing us and selecting our cases for us at the allocation.

So, we are all on the train and get off at Union Station. We then get on the metro, and I get to experience what it simply a daily commute for many… out of control. Downtown DC in the morning is absolutely crazy. People in business suits running everywhere, just like in a movie. We get on the metro and travel to Arlington, Virginia, where we meet Jamie, a Lutheran Volunteer that I work with at LIRS. We all walk to a big building and go up an elevator. We go into a semi-nondescript room in the middle of a very regular looking office. The room has some video cameras, a microphone hanging from the ceiling, and some flat screen TV’s with people on a webcam/conference call from New York.

We sit down and are handed a giant stack of papers. Allocations begin. There are five different “pools” of refugee cases; we go through each pool, until each case has been spoken for by a different agency. I will do my best to describe what qualifies someone for a specific “pool” (*note: I may be over simplifying things, but this is the easiest way to begin understanding the basics of what happens each week in Arlington*)

Free pool– people with no ties anywhere in the United States, can be resettled anywhere

Free Medical pool– no ties in the U.S., but medical problems ranging from mild to VERY serious

Geo pool– people with “anchors” aka… family, friend or relative in the U.S., so essentially they are requesting to be settled in the specific area or city of their anchor.

Bhutanese pool– There is always a pool reserved for an entire group of people who need to leave their country. Right now it’s Bhutanese people.

SIV Pool– Special Immigration Visas

There are a few other things that happen/categories that were discussed, but, for the most part, discussion is about the cases inside of the 5 different pools. Each refugee’s nationality, ethnicity, religion, and place of asylum are marked in special codes within the giant stack of papers you receive up entry. People select their cases one by one based on percentage, capacity, and ability for different affiliates to help/work with different people… Sometimes an individual case has one person in it, other times an individual case might have twenty people.

This whole thing is quite the event; it happens every week.

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