Monday, May 1, 2017

Kalamazoo, Syrians, and Shakespeare

In Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I live, various churches and charities have been busy helping about 30 newly arrived Syrian families who have managed to acquire refugee status in the United States. Most of these families have a lot of children (one has nine), and so the total number of relocated people is over 200. The first of the families got here in November. Coming from a dry and temperate region, and from refugee camps which lacked room for lots of personal belongings, they arrived for the Michigan winter wearing thin pants and slippers and, for the most part, no overcoats. So the first order of business was clothes.

They got them. Within days, local citizens coordinating charitable efforts were wading through piles of donated ski jackets, snowsuits, hats, mittens, and gloves of all sizes, and looking for a large central warehouse in which to store the extras. Space was soon provided by a mosque near Western Michigan University's campus, where Kalamazooans also brought household items, and a regular Saturday morning