Mother's Day is coming up - on May 9, 2021. If you need a nice gift idea for the mother(s) in your life, and you'd like to support a worthy cause at the same time, check out this "gift of goodness" from AsylumWorks, a Washington, DC-area non-profit that provides support for asylum seekers while they wait for resolution of their cases.

AsylumWorks offers a host of services to asylum seekers (whether they are mothers or not), including help with employment, referrals for social services, legal assistance, trauma recovery, and housing and food needs. The organization also helps connect asylum seekers to the wider community and to each other. Through their Mother's Day Campaign (which ends on April 30), you can send a tin of alfajores, delicious sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche and rolled in coconut flakes to a mother in your life, or to an asylum-seeking mom.

Also in honor of Mother's Day and AsylumWorks, here are the asylum stories of two mothers, who also happen to be AsylumWorks clients (thank you to Prof. Lindsay Harris for sharing)--

Paola and Alex: Paola from Honduras is the mother to Alex, her five-year-old daughter. They were forced to flee their country after becoming targets of a powerful gang. Paola and her daughter traveled 2,000 miles by foot, train, and car to seek asylum in the United States. After crossing the Rio Grande, they were apprehended by ICE. Soon afterward, Alex was taken from her mother and put in a separate holding facility for minors. After weeks of not knowing where her daughter was or if she was ok, Paola was thankfully reunited with Alex, and they began their journey to seek asylum in the United States. A distant family member agreed to take Paola in temporarily, but the landlord was wary of new tenants and threatened to kick her out. To make matters worse, young Alex experienced multiple traumatic events in the care of ICE and emerged from detention severely traumatized.

When Paola came to AsylumWorks, she felt very alone--trying to care for her young daughter, who was struggling mentally--as a single mother with no network of social support. Back home, she had lots of neighbors, family members, and community members to help look after Alex during work hours. Here, she struggled to fathom the cost of childcare while waiting for her EAD card, which would allow her to work legally.

AsylumWorks' team quickly referred Paola to a child psychologist who could help manage the ongoing effects of Alex's trauma. When COVID-19 hit and Paola's landlord refused to let her stay, AsylumWorks connected the family with temporary housing. They also provided an emergency rent subsidy to help cover the costs of a security deposit for a new apartment. Paola is planning on attending an upcoming Job Readiness Training workshop this year and is working on childcare with a fellow mother she met at an AsylumWorks community event. While the road ahead is long, she feels hopeful for the first time in a long time.

Emelda and Olivier: Emelda from the Democratic Republic of Congo lives in Virginia with her seven-year-old son Olivier. After her husband was kidnapped for investigating local human rights abuses, Emelda was forced to flee the country with her young son. They have been waiting in "legal limbo" for over two years and the current backlog of asylum cases (made even worse by COVID-19) has only made matters more difficult.

Desperate to earn income as a single parent and struggling to supervise her son's daily virtual school, Emelda took a job as an around-the-clock live-in caretaker for a cognitively compromised patient. Soon after starting, the patient began to be physically abusive towards Olivier. Emelda didn't want to leave and upset the family that took her in, but she was also scared that the situation could turn into something worse.

Now that AsylumWorks' Job Readiness Training has gone virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic, Emelda was able to participate from the patient's room and graduated with a whole new outlook on life. A few weeks ago, she was hired to work at a senior living facility, and last week, she began her new job. She told Nick, AsylumWorks' Employment Program Manager, that she felt very safe because there was a lot of personal protective equipment, unlike at her old job. Emelda and Olivier are planning to move as soon as she has enough money for rent. Emelda is also looking to enroll her son in an in-person elementary school with the help of an AsylumWorks Community Support Worker!

You can see that these mothers--like many hundreds of parents stuck in asylum limbo--were able to persevere and are working towards stability and safety for themselves and their children. A donation to the "gift of goodness" campaign will help families like these and provide a delicious dessert to someone you love.

Check out the AsylumWorks website to learn more about this worthy organization, and if you are an asylum seeker, how they might help you. Oh, and don't forget to call your mother...

Originally posted on the Asylumist: