In our 2018 annual report, we told you about a Congolese refugee family that was hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Peace at St. Catharine. Today, I am happy to give you an update on how our friends Sandrine, Philemon, and baby Lucas are today in 2021.
Both Philemon and Lucas needed immediate medical attention when they arrived. Philemon had an infection that needed extensive – and expensive – treatment. The Sisters at St. Catharine were blessed with financial assistance from hospitals in Bardstown and Louisville, as well as a donation of medication from a pharmaceutical company. Both boys also needed immunizations before Philemon could begin school.
The Sisters helped drive the family members to many doctor appointments and babysat little Lucas when necessary. The Sisters also helped Sandrine obtain health care coverage and legal assistance for her little family.
But it wasn’t long after Sandrine and the boys arrived that we found out that her family was not as little as we thought! Sandrine and her partner had separated at the border, fearing that a family of seven might be too hard to place in the refugee system. Fridalin, the father of all Sandrine’s children except Philemon, the couple’s twins, Samuel and Sabrina, and 13-year-old Sagesse had all been sent to Maine.
In April of 2019, thanks to contributions from our supporters and friends, the Congregation was able to reunite Sandrine, Fridalin, and their children in a rented home in Louisville, KY. We left them in the sympathetic care of Kentucky Refugee Ministries in Louisville, but we do miss them a great deal. Baby Lucas got his first teeth and learned to walk at St. Catharine and brought us all great joy. Philemon taught us a great deal about what life as a teenager is like. The whole family made us aware of a big world outside St. Catharine.
I am happy to report that Sandrine and her family have gotten on their feet despite many challenges. Fridalin works hard to support his growing family, and he and Sandrine welcomed baby Jemina on July 4, 2020.
In September 2020, the family of one of our Sisters gave us a generous donation to help Sandrine and Fridalin and their children. We made sure that their car was in good running order, helped with rent, and had enough to make sure that the family had a merry Christmas.
Sandrine tells us that life in America has had its challenges, but that she and her family feel blessed by the opportunities they have in their new home. She is grateful to the Dominican Sisters of Peace and to our friends and supporters for helping her, Fridalin, and their children find their way here in Kentucky, and become self-sufficient members of their neighborhood, schools, and community.
We are grateful for your support which has helped us follow Christ’s command in Matthew 25: “Do for the least of our sisters and brothers, as we would do for Christ.”