Update from Our Burkina Faso Friends

It has now been nearly a year since Issoufou, Emmanuel, and Idrissa were released from the Youngstown prison to live in the Sanctuary Apartment located at Forest Hill Church Presbyterian, Cleveland Heights. Click here to learn more about their escape from Burkina Faso and the $45,000 bond that our donors and community partners helped fundraise to secure their freedom. 

Fun-loving and joyful, they continue to express appreciation for all of the support and protection they have received since coming to Cleveland. During our recent Cultural Connections virtual event, they provided musical accompaniment and shared recipes from their homeland, a highlight of the evening.

They continue to study English reading and writing with volunteer tutors and the Tri-C Aspire program. They already know the alphabet, basic phrases, and hundreds of words. The men enjoy working in the church’s weekly Pantry. Unfortunately, the current government immigration policies have restricted the men from getting work permits that they had hoped for so that they can start earning an income. Instead they are taking odd jobs moving furniture, gardening, and painting to help support themselves.

Idrissa, Issoufou, and Emmanuel love to watch soccer matches on TV, as well as play soccer in Forest Hill Park whenever weather permits. These tech savvy men set up on their own a Facebook page on their phones. They each have a bike, providing them a great level of freedom to explore the Cleveland area. They are doing video conferencing with their new donated Chrome Book and Kindles. 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 jeffsmith2756@gmail.com

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