Just before 6:30 pm, three volunteered Metro buses arrived from the Portland Family Shelter and Overflow Spaces carrying immigrants to the Portland Expo for dinner. They arrived here on Sunday from Texas.
The word had gone out all day today to organizations that assistance was needed with this influx of asylum seekers. Leopold Ndayisabye and Antoine BlKamba, from the Rwanda Community in the area brought water and volunteered to interpret for those arriving this evening. The common language spoken is Lingala or French or Portugese (sp.) (See the below right photo of the two).
Mohamud Barre, 59, is Executive Director of Maine Access for Immigrant Network. From Somalia, he has lived in this country for twenty years. Barre showed up to help the immigrants any way he can. “I was so shy and nervous when I arrived here,” he said. “I can help some of them.”
The Salvation Army provided twelve volunteers who were putting up long white tables for food serving.
Fire Department Chief Keith Gautreau was sweeping the floor when spotted by mhn.com. He said that at least 20 firefighters had worked at the Expo setting up cots within required space limitations He also put down sticky tape marking the area within which the cots (not beds) were to be aligned. Some volunteers said they were difficult to put together because they are new and stiff – just out of the small boxes from NEMA. (See above right photo).
Tracy Booth, received an email for assistance from the Portland Friends Meeting. The request was for: food preparation, money, transportation and set-up help.
“There is so much going on with immigration nationally and right here in Portland. We are offering hospitality and that’s wonderful. It’s a great introduction to the USA – helping people to start new lives in safety,” Booth concluded.
Many more immigrants will be arriving in the next several days from the Southern US border.
note: A City staff member told mhn.com today that city manager Jon Jennings told him specifically that I could be at the Portland Expo only long enough to take six (6) photos and that the staff member would keep count. That was to take 20 minutes. Mhn. would have to leave immediately. Furthermore, mhn.com could not speak to anyone or ask anyone anything and no one was to speak to me. When I was informed by my “escort” I would not be “forcefully removed” from the Expo, I disregarded the instructions from Jennings for my post. Did he really give those instructions for ME specifically? Is this what Freedom of the Press in Portland looks like? By the way, placed in a hard spot, my escort handled the situation well and I’d like to thank him for that. He should not have been used as he was by the Communications Director.
Despite several requests for emails on the matter mentioned in the previous post herein, Grondin had not complied as of this writing.