For more than a year, comedian, talk show host, and best selling author, Chelsea Handler has sponsored the education of dozens of Syrian refugee children. In the last few months, Chelsea's generosity has extended to support Syrian families that had recently been resettled in the United States. The Chelsea Fund has allowed our team to equip 5 Syrian refugee families in the United States with cars. Through meetings with the families we had been connected with, we learned that a reliable source of transportation was crucial in order for these families to succeed. Our team is working to secure 12 newly resettled families in Chicago, Michigan, Seattle, Boston, and New Hampshire with cars. Our assistance program for refugee families in the US evolved from our Smart Aid philosophy –providing what is needed to those who need it by asking one simple question: What do you need? Stay tuned for more updates!
To be resettled in the United States, Syrian refugees must go through a rigorous vetting process that involves:
A series of interviews with the UNHCR to determine eligibility, a process that could take 18-24 months alone;
Eight government agencies;
Six security databases;
Five separate background checks;
Four biometric security checks — that means fingerprints, checked against databases;
Three separate, in-person interviews;
Two interagency security checks running data against criminal, intelligence, and terrorism databases; and
An additional layer of screening, involving additional interviews with US intelligence agencies and the State Department.
In 2015, the Karam Team met Elen in Reyhanli, Turkey. She and her family are originally from Idlib, Syria. Elen stayed at home to take care of her younger siblings and her father, who is paralyzed while her mother worked to support their family. Elen and her family enrolled in Karam's Sponsor A Syrian Refugee Family. Elen was able to attend school, and excelled in math. Today, she and her family live in Portland, Oregon. She is in the 5th grade, and is doing amazing in school. Chelsea supported her family by purchasing them a wheelchair accessible van so that her father can leave the house.