NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — NWA is home to dozens of refugees who are also feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since opening in 2016, Canopy Northwest Arkansas has helped over 170 refugees resettle here in NWA. Now the organization is stepping up its efforts to help them through this crisis.
Travel restrictions are in place, stay at home orders are in effect and businesses can’t operate like they normally do to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“For Canopy, that means we’re not currently resettling any new families,” said Director of Community Engagement Hannah Lee.
Canopy Northwest Arkansas is a nonprofit organization that works with refugees.
It accepts about 50 people every year, those fleeing from persecution or violence from their home countries. So far this year they were only able to resettle one person before the program was suspended.
“All of those families and individuals that are going to be resettled are essentially waiting for us to reopen the resettlement process, so they are kind of in limbo right now.”
For now, Lee said they are focusing on the dozens of refugees who are here in NWA.
“Our social integration teams are working to make sure that different information about the virus is distributed in our clients’ various languages.”
The first six months of a refugee’s life here in Arkansas is all about becoming self-sufficient but like everyone else they too are facing challenges during this pandemic.
“Our employment teams are working tirelessly to help mitigate some of the job losses and cutbacks our clients have faced because we have had people lose their jobs.”
Some were able to benefit from some relief.
“For some families, they haven’t been here long enough but some families do qualify for a stimulus check which is very helpful.”
For the young ones, Canopy is supporting them virtually through a mentorship program.
“We’re trying to form relationships with them, work on their English comprehension skills, their cultural understanding and sometimes provide them with homework help,” said volunteer Annette Quinn.
Lee said that even during tough times they can always count on the community.
“This is literally a global pandemic and our community is still soo generous and we have seen that in millions of different ways.
Canopy has set up a crisis relief fund to help with some of the financial hardships.