Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I have a funny story from work today.

Today I decided that when the refugees come for intake (usually the day after they arrive in the US, to do all the boring paperwork and find out all we can about them), I would see if I could get a time slot in which to sit down and explain a few things about housing to them. For example, when rent is due, where to send their rent (I think I'm going to start giving each family a half sheet of paper with all this info), which utilities they pay, what phone number to call for repairs, when they need to start paying rent, etc. So today, in the first intake I tried this out on, one guy asked me a bunch of questions about his apartment. Since I had personally checked over his apartment, I knew that most of the reports of broken things could be attributed to refugees newly arrived not quite understanding their American apartment, so I ended up driving them home after intake and checking out the problems. The sink, indeed, was clogging up, but the stove was fine. Then, there was the perennial issue of the smell of food permeating the entire apartment, which seems to bother a fair amount of refugees from every country refugees have come from. I just explained to him that American apartments have to have thick walls and enclosed spaces so that we can keep the heat in during the winter. We don't have open space to the outside (which he was worried about because he didn't have). Then he point blank asked me for another bed because when his wife is menstruating, they can't sleep in the same bed. He also wanted another bed for when they had guests in the future. He was very adamant that it was their culture that men did not share a bed with their wife when the woman was menstruating. His wife was even chiming in with "4 days!" He clarified, saying "Four days out of every month, I must sleep on the floor?" I basically told him yes, because LFS buys 1 bed for married people, and we can't buy any more. I told him that when he gets a job and some money, he can buy himself another bed.

I don't usually have client interactions like this, mostly because most of our refugee's English is non existent, or not good. But this Bhutanese family spoke English well (the two young, married adults), and I guess my new idea of having a talk with the refugees during intake might turn into a little more client interaction.

It was snowing pretty hard on my way home from work. This week I've already logged 27 hours (11 yesterday), so since we're still on the 37.5 work week, that means I get to work 10 1/2 hours between Thursday and Friday (with a 2 1/2 hour cushion, if something comes up). Sounds good to me. I love the flexibility of my job.

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