Distrust building in Waterbury, CT

This is an update of the post I did the other day where the International Institute of Connecticut has come under fire from the refugees it is supposed to serve.  The mostly Burmese refugees feel the agency is not doing its job and so a meeting was arranged between the director and the refugees.    Much to the surprise of local American advocates (church members and a teacher), they were closed out of the meeting.

A local church was thwarted Saturday from attending a meeting between Waterbury’s Burmese refugees and their resettlement agency, when the agency sent a bus to get the refugees and bring them to its headquarters in Bridgeport.

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Two volunteers from Living Faith Christian Church and a local teacher gathered at the refugees apartments Saturday, ready to help them pose questions about their rent and medical appointments. Many of the 60-plus refugees had asked church members to be at the meeting to help them articulate their concerns. But the director of the International Institute of Connecticut, which resettled the refugees last summer, insisted that the meeting was confidential and closed to the church and the press.

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“They went to great lengths to keep us from going and that makes me more suspicious,” said Cheryl Newland, of Living Faith Christian Church. “We were just going to observe what was going on so we could hear at least what the institute told them.”

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Kate Lockwood, a West Side Middle School teacher, was at the refugees’ apartment Saturday morning, asked to accompany the refugees. But after case worker Anthony Zurowski called his sister, Angela Zurowski, director for resettlement at the institute, Lockwood was told the meeting was private.

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“I could tell the families were upset,” said Lockwood. “I’m doing this because I care about them. I don’t think they get that same sense from the institute.”

I laughed out loud when I saw this last line in the story from the Republican American.  Way to go Ya Za!

One refugee, Ya Za, has become so distrustful of Zurowski and the institute that he purchased a tape recorder and took it with him to the meeting.