World Vision partners with Dallas schools as humanitarian crisis continues

Story by John Iwasaki / Photos courtesy of Dallas Independent School District

Children who come to the U.S. from another country face a number of challenges, not the least of which is adjusting to a new school.

World Vision's Rafael Muñoz (left), engagement officer at the North Texas field site, and Phyllis Freeman, director of domestic disaster response unload school supplies at the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Student Intake Center in Dallas.

World Vision's Rafael Muñoz (left), engagement officer at the North Texas field site, and Phyllis Freeman, director of domestic disaster response unload school supplies at the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Student Intake Center in Dallas.

In the Dallas Independent School District, the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Student Intake Center welcomes students and determines what services they need, such as English language instruction, and places them in the appropriate grade level.

World Vision's North Texas field site recently helped students make their adjustment by donating books, school supplies, hygiene kits, shoes, and blankets to the center for distribution to new arrivals.

The recipients are children from around the world, including those who came unaccompanied from Central America in a continuing humanitarian crisis. From October 2014 through March 2015, more than 15,600 children have entered the U.S. through Mexico.

Last June, World Vision began working with churches and community partners across the U.S. to supply unaccompanied children with clothing, school supplies, activities, and other resources. Many of those children and youth arrive in the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their backs.

"It's been almost a year since we heard about thousands of children and youth traveling from Latin America to North America to escape traumatic events in their home countries," says Phyllis Freeman, national disaster response director for World Vision's U.S. Programs.

The new partnership with the Dallas school center "brings me joy, seeing the smiling faces of the children," she says. "It's like they are saying that all is okay."

Phyllis Freeman (right) shows Amanda Clymer, director of the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Student Intake Center, a copy of 'Fearless & Friends.'

Phyllis Freeman (right) shows Amanda Clymer, director of the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Student Intake Center, a copy of "Fearless & Friends."

 

Marlene Yepez-Porras, parent/community liaison specialist for the center, says the items provided by World Vision make a difference: "Everything helps students feel comfortable and accepted."

The World Vision shipment includes a book titled "Fearless & Friends" that encourages children to persevere and overcome fears.

"Every time a student walks into our offices, they are receiving that as a welcome," Yepez-Porras says. "There are going to be challenges. You're coming to a new country. You can make it."

The center has served 1,700 students since last August from countries including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Burma, Nepal, and Kenya.

"We've seen a lot of smiles and thankfulness," Yepez-Porras says. "You receive shoes. Who doesn't need [new] shoes to start school?"

Overall, the center is "looking to collaborate" further with World Vision, she says. "We're very grateful to begin this partnership."

OUR WORK IN THE U.S.

 

GIVE TO OUR WORK