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Chicago Comes Through In Fundraiser To Bring Refugee Family To City

By Justin Breen | December 24, 2016 8:42am | Updated on December 28, 2016 10:52am
 Manisha Dayal with her husband Ravi Kodavarti and their children Nihal, 15, and Saniya, 11.
Manisha Dayal with her husband Ravi Kodavarti and their children Nihal, 15, and Saniya, 11.
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Manisha Dayal

CHICAGO — Manisha Dayal can't wait to welcome a refugee family to Chicago.

Dayal, a clinical psychologist from Sauganash, has teamed up with her family and Uptown-based RefugeeOne on an $8,500 fundraiser to bring a refugee family with children to Chicago.

"When we meet them, I'm going to cry," said Dayal.

She and husband Ravi Kodavarti and their children — Nihal, 15, a sophomore at Jones College Prep; and Saniya, 11, a sixth-grader at Edison Regional Gifted Center — launched the fundraiser Wednesday. As of early Saturday morning, it had raised more than $1,600. Within hours of a DNAinfo story publication Saturday morning, the fundraiser had surpassed the goal, and as of early Monday morning, it had raised more than $9,500.

"No matter what the political climate is, there are a large group of us that really, really care about making refugees feel that the U.S. is a home for them," Dayal added. "To be able to welcome a family and make them feel safe in Chicago, that is going to be awesome."

Dayal and her husband were both born in India and have lived in Chicago for most of their adult lives. Dayal said they wanted to conduct a fundraising drive for a refugee family for years and after Donald Trump won the presidency, this holiday season seemed like the perfect time.

Dayal works with many refugees in her private practice, including former residents of Congo, Maldova, Eritrea and one man in Pakistan she said had his legs broken because he was gay.

The $8,500 will cover living expenses for the family, plus a full pantry of food. Dayal said she's also seeking volunteers to teach the incoming refugee family English, help with social visits and learning financial skills.

Kim Snoddy of RefugeeOne, which is already finding a residence for the family, who have yet to be selected, said the fundraiser will allow Chicagoans to "walk alongside a refugee family that has experienced war, terror and persecution."

"Together we will help them build new lives of safety, dignity and self reliance here in Chicago," Snoddy said. "It gives us hope that so many remain committed to providing a welcoming community for refugees here in Chicago."

For more information on the fundraiser, click here.

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