If you've been involved with refugees in Memphis, you already know that transportation is one of the greatest challenges facing these new Memphians. The WRM team has seen first hand how successfully refugees overcome this challenge and found these two articles interesting when considering difficulties with transportation.
In an article entitled The 7 biggest challenges facing refugees and immigrants in the US, Christina Nuñez, editor of Global Citizen, states that the lack of access to reliable transportation can affect nearly every aspect of a newly arrived refugee's life. She describes how limited English proficiency and literacy can delay obtaining a driver's license. The article also mentions that once a family does have one car, this still does not always meet all the needs for transportation. For example, children may need to go to school and adults may need to go to work or run errands at the same time.
In the March 2016 issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows further illuminates transportation challenges in How America Is Putting Itself Back Together. Fallows acknowledges the economic contribution of refugees and immigrants to smaller cities and towns while pointing out the difficulties created by inadequate transportation. In the article Fallows notes that unreliable public transportation is a significant challenge faced by refugees, who sometimes solve these problems by walking long distances to and from work, even in inclement weather. Fallows also tells that cultural norms regarding transportation can be challenging.
In Memphis, you can help new refugees overcome their transportation challenges in 3 ways.
- Driver's Education Classes: Donate $500 to pay for a refugee to attend class and receive private driving lessons. Students also have the opportunity to take driver's license testing.
- ESL Volunteers: Volunteer to help a refugee become fluent and literate in English so they can pass the driving exam.
- Used Cars: Donate a working used car or money towards the purchase of a first car.
Acting on any of these steps will help refugees assimilate to life in Memphis and move towards self-sufficiency.