Jericho Road Community Health Center provided an update Monday about how the Vive Shelter on Buffalo’s East Side is coping with the influx of nearly 100 new Congolese asylum seekers. The Congolese arrived about three weeks ago after being released from detention at the southern U.S. border.
In less than one month, Jericho Road received more than $250,000 in financial contributions for Vive, which it operates.
“So many Buffalonians have told us that they appreciate what we are doing and that it is the right thing to do, and the right thing for Buffalo to do,” said Dr. Myron Glick, Jericho Road’s founder and chief operating officer. “This overwhelmingly positive response to a humanitarian crisis gives me hope that the American people still have a sense of basic decency and a desire to do well by their neighbors who are in need.”
Dr. Glick also emphasized that the newcomers endured an arduous three-to-nine-month-long journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to finally make it to Buffalo.
“Most flew to Brazil and then traveled on foot and by bus all the way from Brazil to Texas—a journey that was over 2,500 miles through jungles, deserts, across rivers, and at great personal hardship,” he said. “These are desperate people who are fleeing untenable situations in their home country.”
Anna Ireland Mongo, chief program officer at Jericho Road and director of the Vive Shelter, said she never doubted that Buffalo would step up to help the new asylum seekers, but that she particularly touched by some unexpected first-time supporters.
“I think of the American Red Cross, who within 24 hours helped me with emergency cots. I think of Canisius College, who opened up their dorms temporarily to help me provide safe sleeping spaces,” she said.
“I think of Just Pizza, who in a donation that I never would have anticipated, gave my staff a break by allowing us to not cook dinner for a night [and] also blessed everyone in the shelter with a good old Buffalo meal.”
Mongo also thanked the individual donors, businesses and local foundations who made monetary donations to Jericho Road and the shelter.
However, even with the outpouring of support, Vive expects to continue receiving more Congolese asylum seekers. The shelter is still asking for volunteers and donations in order to continue providing food, shelter and medical services to the Congolese as they face a lengthy asylum process.
Jericho Road and Journey’s End Refugee Services, which is helping provide legal services to the newly-arrived Congolese, are also seeking volunteer attorneys with or without immigration experience.