November 08, 2019
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Asylum seekers moving to Brunswick getting a helping hand

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Cots and belongings stand in rows atop the basketball court in the Portland Expo building on June 19. Hundreds of new asylum seekers, mainly from The Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, are now being temporarily housed in the building.

Brunswick town officials expect at least 60 more asylum seekers currently in Portland to join 20 already in housing near Brunswick Landing over the next week. Town Manager John Eldridge said with those numbers the Town Council approved a full-time multilingual coordinator, called a “cultural broker.”

“We’re very pleased to have [Nsiona Nguizani] join us,” Eldridge said. “He comes highly recommended from the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. So we’re looking forward to having the person on board.”

[Some asylum seekers to move from Portland Expo Center to housing in Brunswick]

Nguizani is fluent in three languages and can understand several others. Nguizani said he sees his position as a two-way coordinator — helping asylum seekers and locals acclimate. The job is a six-month position that pays $70,000. Nguizani said he hopes to make transitions as smooth as possible for everyone involved.

“Because we are all together now, we have to live together,” Nguizani said, “We have only one town, and we have to live there. So one part will be inclusion, the other one will work on integration so we can come together.”

[‘We’ve got a really critical situation’: 250 asylum seekers need housing by early August]

Town officials are still figuring out a location for asylum services. On Friday, the town launched a way for people to help.

“The town council did establish a community support fund,” So if people want to contribute to the effort there will be a way to do that. They can go to the town’s homepage on the web and they’ll find a way to contribute to the fund.”



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