Greensboro looks to improve connection with refugees

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- After a tragic apartment took the lives of five refugee children from the same family in Greensboro, the city continues to look for ways to improve the lives of those who resettled in Greensboro.

After the 2018 fire, an investigation found more than 200 violations on the property -- at least five in each unit.

This sparked a greater conversation about living conditions across the city, especially for places that house refugees.

Over the years the city has done a lot to improve conditions, among them, staying in close contact with the family devastated by the 2018 fire.

Last December, Mayor Nancy Vaughan traveled to the resettlement camp in Uganda where the family was from. There, the family has set up an education scholarship to honor their oldest daughter, Hope Roy, who passed away in the fire.

“She loved school,” Vaughan said. She explained that Hope knew how important education was when staying in the refugee camp and when she moved to Greensboro.

The program raises money to give students a chance to move from large class sizes of a couple hundred to smaller rooms where they can grow quicker in their education.

Money has been donated from various agencies across the city, including funds raised by Greensboro firefighters.

As inspirational as this was, the mayor also learned of areas where the city can do more to help refugees when they resettle in Greensboro.

At the top of the list, making sure they know their rights in America.

“They’re afraid to report when they’re being victimized, or when their apartments are substandard. We have to build those bridges and let them know that this is a much better place from where they came from,” Vaughan said.

The mayor also discussed better education for adult refugees, improvements in helping refugees get jobs similar to what they had at home, and instant connection with families once they arrive in Greensboro.

“We really need to have a more coordinated approach. So people can feel comfortable in their new surroundings,” she said.

When FOX8 spoke to refugees, the response was mixed.

Some families who recently moved to the city said they had several opportunities to thrive and become employed.

Those who moved to the city several years ago explained how they feel forgotten. One family claimed that their caseworker abandoned them three months after they moved, leaving them to sort through the process by themselves.

Other areas they hope the city can improve is in city transpiration to areas where several refugees are finding job opportunities.

Baba Ayile used to be one of those refugees.

“To provide for a family, that’s a problem, transpiration, that is a very big problem indeed,” Ayile said.

He now has a car but sees his neighbors struggling to get to work.

Vaughan said there is a lot to discuss. She is working on a presentation on her trip and where she thinks the city can go from here.

No date is set, but it could be sometime in March.

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