First Free has recently established a relationship with World Relief, an organization whose mission is to ‘Empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable’. With a heart to minister to our refugee neighbors, the C.A.R.E. Team was organized in late 2021 – whose goal is the movement of the Gospel through care. This is a team of five to seven people who work directly with World Relief to learn about refugee families needing assistance, and then engage with those families long-term, to provide aid with anything from housing to groceries to clothing or even help with learning English.

Space on this team is limited, so check back often to see not only if you can serve on the team, but if there are other ways to partner with them on short-term projects, which will be posted here.

World Relief has just placed a family from Angola, the Mbengos, with us – and they’ve moved in to the first floor unit (just above the garden unit) at 5239 N. Ashland. The Mbengo family has an inspiring story. They were able to catch a flight to Brazil, but then spent the next 15 months walking to the Mexico / U.S. border. To give us a frame of reference for what some of their experiences might have been like, here’s a story about a family, also from Angola, and their journey to reach safety in the U.S.: https://www.pressherald.com/2018/12/23/from-angola-to-portland-a-migrant-familys-treacherous-journey-to-freedom/?fbclid=IwAR1U9xK2yBXXgB-U2-ezpnryQviirPh4oxGk9XyD5S81-hlBqvLRiNgaBxw

You can help immediately by assisting the C.A.R.E. Team to meet the following needs:

For the Parents:

  1. They need a laptop computer to help them with school and to communicate via Zoom – and to access city, state, and national services online.
  2. English courses with a private tutor (or donations to help them pay for tutoring), and friends to help them speak. They speak Portuguese and French fluently.
  3. Weekly transportation to / from the local food pantry
  4. Friends to help them learn city life, transportation practice and to find stores / thrift stores with bargains.
  5. New friends who will listen and who will celebrate their story.

For the Kids:

  1. Friends and activities to help them form healthy identities and belonging in a safe and caring context.
  2. The children ask for fruits and candy.
  3. They like learning new games.

***** UPDATE ******

Most recently, the upcoming needs for the Mbengo family are:

The Mbengos are starting to settle into their new home in their First Free campus apartment. The First Free C.A.R.E. Team is beginning a new season in our caring relationship with the family.  Medical, dental, and vision care expenses are piling up, and we need your help. Eye exams and glasses are needed. Dental appointments are on the horizon.  These expenses aren’t covered by Medicaid.  Would you prayerfully consider a generous gift to help the Mbengo’s medical needs? 

Also, the end of the school year is quickly approaching, and summer activities for the four children are needed.  The team has worked hard and enrolled the Mbengo children in Chicago Park District programs. But, even subsidized Chicago Park District youth camps cost hundreds of dollars for a family with four children, as well as YMCA, and other local youth camps and events.  Would you give generously to help send the kids to camp this summer?  

Our prayer is that we at First Free would bless the Mbengo family with good health, vision and dental care as well as summer activities for the children by raising $2,000.00.  

Contact the team leader, Jim Conner, by using the “Contact Us” button below to learn more or get involved with this team doing great work in our community!

To learn more about World Relief, go to their website at: https://worldrelief.org .