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placeholder Catholics to show appreciation for public safety workers

Voice collection is next month

East Bay youths share World Youth Day experiences

Preparing for the trip to Rio was a parishwide effort

'A spark that lit up my faith'

Pope, youths leave lasting impression

Work of CCEB refugee program praised

Chautauqua collection to aid grieving Richmond family

Bocce tournament raises $17,000 to feed the hungry in Contra Costa

St. Michael School turns 100

Sept. 9 feast of St. Peter Claver

Trio visits former administrator

Celebrate 5's spirit of aloha

Sister M. Martin Moran

Sister Dorothy Casper, OP

A gathering of, and by, survivors

Meet school representatives at College Fair

Early admission program enters third year at HNU

Degree completion, master's programs vibrant part of HNU

Profile of 'passionately Catholic' Franciscan University of Steubenville

Saint Mary's College embarks on life as a 'college that changes lives'

A day to remember

Benedictine College ranked by U.S. News

All Saints, Cal State ministry to celebrate Mass

Campus ministry ready to help college youth in faith connection

Loyola Marymount University's film school among top 10 in US

placeholder September 9, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA

CCEB program participants from left, Biak Sang of Burma and Bao Nguyen and Hung Nguyen of Vietnam; Gowsigan Sivakolunthu of Sri Lanka, Lyanne Zarate of Mexico; and Sister Elisabeth Lang of Vietnam.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice

Work of CCEB refugee program praised

Daniel Crose's English class is very special. His 40 students, young and old, hail from more than 14 countries.

By the numbers

15 million – people worldwide are displaced due to politics or human trafficking.

3 million – refugees have come to the United States since 1980.

58,000 – refugees admitted to the U.S. in 2012

70,000 – refugees to be admitted this year. Burma, Bhutan and Iraq are bringing the highest numbers of refugees, followed by Somalia, The Congo and Cuba.

11,000 – refugees trained for employment by CCEB in the last 25 years.

312 – refugees helped by CCEB in fiscal year 2012-2013.

150 – refugees currently registered.
All of them are refugees who had to leave their home countries for various reasons, mainly political persecution, and who came to America in search of a better life.

This English class is one component of the refugee resettlement program of Catholic Charities of the East Bay, an organization that for more than 30 years has worked with the immigrant population to make the transition to their new country more bearable.

"The enthusiasm of refugees, as well as the entire staff, is very great" said Lawrence Bartlett, deputy director of the Office of Admissions, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the Department of State after visiting CCEB facilities.

The group put all its recently learned skills to the test in a mock job interview during Bartlett's visit in August.

"They were having fun, despite all the difficulties they faced in their countries," Bartlett said.

For refugees, arriving in a new country requires many sacrifices and a lot of work, from learning the language, getting a job, adjusting to a new culture and becoming self-sufficient.

According to Bartlett, the program has received more than 3 million refugees since 1980 when it was established, and it has the support of Congress and the presidency.

"It is a testimony that we are a nation of immigrants ... that we embrace their heritage and support these people in need who have done nothing wrong but by the circumstances of life have had to leave their country because of persecution. As Americans we welcome them to our country," said Bartlett.

"The work of CCEB is what makes this program work. We thank Oakland for receiving refugees and declare that this program will continue to receive federal support to continue being successful," he said.

Solomon Belette, CEO at Catholic Charities, said CCEB "believes in welcoming foreigners established in our community. We are deeply committed to providing resettlement services, personal development, legal and economic help, for each family of refugees under our care so they can move on to self-sufficiency and prosperity." Belette left CCEB Aug. 30 (story on Page 2).

In February, CCEB received confirmation of a three-year contract with Alameda County worth $450,000 a year to provide employment services to refugees who speak limited English, and CalWORKs clients seeking general assistance.

Thanks to these funds, the program has expanded its service capabilities with a new room with 20 computers, a larger classroom for up to 50 students, four staff offices, two meeting rooms, a master vocational instructor in English as a Second Language (Crose) and two part-time instructors for the computer room, which receives about 100 customers daily.

"One of those instructors was one of our customers," said Sister Elisabeth Lang, director of the refugee resettlement program of CCEB.

"Their success is our success, so we are proud when we hear English, get jobs and they can fend for themselves," she added.

An example is Lyanne Zarate , a young woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, who arrived in October 2012 and already speaks English, got a job to volunteer with an organization that helps immigrants and received a grant from that agency to study this summer.

According to Sister Lang, the government allows 90 days to help people get housing, furniture, financial assistance for the first month, but will extend the assistance for a period of time. And they can continue to attend English classes until they are comfortable speaking the language.

Classes are offered at CCEB's new location, Casa de Esperanza at St. Anthony Parish, 1520 E.15th St., Oakland 94606.

Speaking for themselves

"I feel very happy, a year ago knew nothing, now I would like to get a degree and graduate. Daniel (Crose) is a great teacher and I thank Catholic Charities because it helped me a lot, we give free lessons and I had never seen this before.

Bao Nguyen

"I love the United States, there is more freedom than in my country; people can study and have a better life.

Lyanne Zarate

"When I arrived, did not speak any English. Now thanks to Catholic Charities' classes I try to talk to everyone I can. Americans are very friendly and kind."

Gowsigan Sivakolunthu

"I like the country, everyone is very friendly, I have many friends in my class and we have a great teacher."

Hung Nguyen

"I love this country because there is kindness. I am a refugee and here they have welcomed me. God bless this country."

Biak Sang

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