BRUNSWICK — Nsiona Nguizani started work Monday as Brunswick’s new cultural broker, tasked with helping asylum seekers get settled in town and acclimated to life in the U.S.

An African immigrant himself and the president of the Angolan Community of Maine, Nguizani lives in Westbrook and has been working extensively with the asylees in Portland, according to Brunswick Town Manager John Eldridge. He speaks all the primary languages of the families settling in Brunswick (French, Portuguese and Lingala, among others) and “seemed to hit all the right notes” in discussions about what the job would entail, he said last week.

Brunswick currently has about 20 asylum seekers living at Brunswick Landing, but that number is expected to at least triple within the week, as more families relocate from the Portland Expo, where city officials set up a temporary shelter for the hundreds of people who have sought asylum from violence and persecution in countries like Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to contractual obligations, everyone must be out of the Expo by Thursday. Housing developers, landlords and families across Brunswick have offered their homes to people who may need them. The majority will be at Brunswick Landing.

With so many new families coming in, many of whom do not speak English and know little about American culture, Brunswick hired Nguizani to help the asylees transition.

The position is full-time for the first six months, at which point the level of need will be reevaluated, Eldridge said. His salary is $70,000. He will split his time between Brunswick Landing, where officials hope to set up a sort of “asylum seekers’ resource center” and the town offices, though Eldridge said the majority of his time will likely be spent with the families.

The position “reflects the town’s commitment to multi-cultural communication, inclusion, integration and support that ensures the health, stability, family well-being and that is proactive, strategic and collaborative,” according to the job description. The goal is to help all families seeking asylum “establish independence and the skills to navigate their new home and the resources they need,” while serving to “bridge the cultural gap by communicating differences and similarities between cultures.”

Town officials established the Brunswick Community Support Fund and are working to set up a GoFundMe site for donations, a link for which will eventually be on the town website. Until then, the town is accepting donations by check or credit card over the phone. Checks should be made payable to the Town of Brunswick with “Brunswick Community Support Fund” in the memo line and sent to “Town of Brunswick, Finance Department, 85 Union St., Brunswick, ME 04011.”

To make a credit card donation, call the Tax Office at (207) 725-6657.

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