Editors note: This is a guest commentary from reader ‘pungentpeppers.’
What’s happening to the money used to settle refugees in the U.S.? It sure isn’t being spent to teach refugees the basics of life in the U.S.A.
A baby boy, born to Somali refugee parents, might still be alive today if his family understood about smoke detectors. Officials said 7-month-old Mohamed Ali likely died of smoke inhalation after his family’s apartment building in Phoenix caught fire June 23. The baby’s mother and grandmother were able to get out the other children living in the apartment, but heavy smoke and a wall of flames prevented them from saving the baby.
The fire displaced about 80 people from the 16-unit complex, which is largely occupied by refugee families. Most have since returned to their apartments.
Per police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump, investigators believe the family’s apartment didn’t have a working detector — the battery was missing. Crump said that it’s not clear who removed the battery or when.
From Arizona Central:
Fatuma Dubow, a Somali refugee who lives in the complex, said most people from her homeland don’t have electricity, so checking a smoke detector or understanding how it works is knowledge that develops over time.
When asked if she has checked her smoke detector’s battery, Dubow said she didn’t know how.
“I tried one day, but I couldn’t,” she said Tuesday as a maintenance man repaired water damage to her kitchen from fighting the fire.
Another Somali refugee who lives nearby said she knew that smoke detectors were important but was under the impression that they alerted police and fire automatically during a fire.
The woman, who did not want to provide her name, said it takes some immigrants years to learn things such as how to dial 911 or what to do when they smell a gas leak. Some type of instruction would help, she said.
(Continue reading here)
Generally refugee resettlement agencies send a caseworker to meet the family at the airport and drive them to a furnished apartment. [It is in their contract with the federal government–ed]. They are then told how to work kitchen appliances, operate the air-conditioner, lock the doors and windows, run the hot- and cold-water taps and call 911. Cathy Peterson, of Catholic Charities Community Service, said “The heath and safety (primer) would include the smoke alarms”.
It’s plain that this group of refugees were not given adequate instruction or training. It is unfair to them, and to their neighbors, to settle them in unfamiliar environments that are poles apart from what they are used to, and to expect that somehow, magically, the foreign newcomers will “breath in” our way of life.
If people cannot read or understand the basics, what’s the use of giving them a quick talk and handing them a health and safety booklet?! Do the refugee agencies expect Phoenix fire officials to teach them our way of life in Bantu?! The refugee agencies get paid big bucks to bring people here, but their profit-maximizing, hare-brained “bring ’em and dump ’em” scheme – well, it just cost this baby his life.