It has now been three months since Issoufou, Emmanuel, and Idrissa, all from Burkina Faso, were released from the Youngstown prison. They fled their country to seek asylum in the United States after their families were massacred in 2018, when uniformed armed men attacked their village. Their new home is the Sanctuary Apartment located at Forest Hill Church Presbyterian, Cleveland Heights. AMIS, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Immigration Assistance Fund, Cleveland Jobs with Justice worked together with individuals and faith organizations to raise the $45,000 needed to post bond of $15,000 for each man.
These three delightful, fun loving, men are thriving in their new environment. Although traumatized by the massacre, these inspirational men often express how happy they are to be free and how appreciative they are for the care, support, and protection so many are providing.
Volunteer tutors are teaching the men four days a week to read and write English. They already know the alphabet, basic phrases, and hundreds of words. The men enjoy working in the church’s weekly Pantry. These former farmers are looking forward to planting a vegetable garden in the spring. They already have obtained their seeds! The men hope to be granted work permits this summer, so that they can start earning an income, putting them on the road to self-sufficiency.
Idrissa, Issoufou, and Emmanuel love to watch soccer matches on TV, as well as play soccer in Forest Hill Park whenever weather permits. These technologically savvy men set up on their own a Facebook page on their phone. They will soon start doing video conferencing with their new laptop. The men are good cooks, having mastered the use of the oven and microwave.
Their asylum claims are ongoing. We don’t expect a final resolution for quite some time. We will let you know when something of significance happens with their claims. The legal process is a long one.
Because of Covid-19, contact with the men is currently very restricted and must be cleared through FHC’s Immigration Task Force. Questions can be directed to Jeff Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.