Jesus, Our Risen Savior sponsors Islamic refugee family


SPARTANBURG — Fallout from the war in Bosnia continues to spill as families driven from their homeland search the world for new roots.

The Hasonovich family fled the bullets and bloodshed of Bosnia for a safer existence in Germany seven years ago. They are Islamic refugees now. Only ethnic hatred and death await them back home. They can never go back, so they started over again in Germany.

Amir and Jasmina Hasonovich finally thought they had scratched out a life in Germany. Amir found a job with BMW, and they planted new roots. This past June 21, the Lord even blessed them with twins, one boy and one girl.

Then tragedy struck again. Germany announced the closing of all its refugee camps, leaving the Hasonovich family with no country and no home. They couldn’t stay in Germany, and they couldn’t go back to Bosnia.

However, they have found folks who care about them in Upstate South Carolina.

The people at Jesus, Our Risen Savior heard about their plight, and now the parish is sponsoring the Hasonovich family. Once again, Amir and Jasmina must uproot, but this time they are traveling to the land of the free with their twins, Amer and Amesa.

Coryn Sturm, a parishioner at Our Risen Savior, said Father Eugene Leonard was approached by the Lutheran Church World Services, who hoped the parish would sponsor the Islamic refugee family.

Father Leonard put the proposal to a parish vote, Sturm said, and the people opened their arms wide to the Hasonoviches.

“We want to reach out to people in need,” Sturm said. She said the parish won’t impose its Catholic beliefs on the family, but it will take them in and help them get restarted.

Sturm said the parish found the Hasonoviches an apartment at Oak Forest, near Our Risen Savior. Parishioners who speak German also came forward to act as interpreters and to welcome the family in a language they understand.

Then the BMW plant off of Interstate 85 pitched in, giving Amir Hasonovich a job and helping to finance the family’s needs, such as providing rent for the first 30 days, paying for rental furniture and offering the family a rental car.

“These normally are things that fall on the sponsor,” said Jean Eicholtz, a liaison between the parish and the automaker.

Eicholtz said U.S. law prohibits a company from sponsoring a refugee family. So when Our Risen Savior stepped forward as sponsors, BMW pitched in to help out all it could. “It’s neat the way things fell into place,” she said.

Sturm agreed. “God does work in mysterious ways,” she said.

Once the Hasonovich family arrives, Our Risen Savior is ready to greet them with an apartment, a stocked kitchen and friends.

Eicholtz knows firsthand how the parishioners embrace folks in need at Our Risen Savior. She is also new to the Upstate, and Our Risen Savior immediately welcomed her family with open arms. They are doing the same with the Hasonoviches, she said.

“They have poured themselves out for us. All we had to do was ask and we received.”

The parish even found a crib for the refugee family. Sturm, however, said more needs to be done. The Hasonoviches will need bedding for the babies, bumpers for the crib, and hopefully a double stroller for the infants.

Eicholtz said the Hasonovich family also will need Social Security cards, medical certificates, drivers’ licenses and someone to set up a bank account for them. “That usually falls on the sponsors,” she said.

Right now, Our Risen Savior is waiting for the Hasonoviches to reach the United States.

The family is waiting in Germany. There, they have to go through a series of administrative processes, including health screening, interviews, and paperwork. The U.S. State Department is assisting the family through the process and will arrange their travel to the United States, at which point they will contact the resettlement agency, Lutheran Church World Services. The agency is expecting a flight schedule any day now.

Once they reach the United States, the Hasonoviches will be among friends. And hopefully they will be able to put the war in Bosnia behind them and plant deep-growing roots for their family.