ReEstablish Richmond Supports Resettled Communities Establish New Businesses

ReEstablish Richmond Supports Resettled Communities Establish New Businesses

ReEstablish Richmond volunteers help members of resettled communities establish new businesses. The following is a biography of Ah Char Ngwa, ReR client who is establishing her cleaning business, White Glove Cleaning. A ReEstablish Richmond volunteer will be helping Ah Char develop a website this fall. For a free estimate for her cleaning services, call or text (804) 933- 1408.

Here is a little bit about Ah Char:

Ah Char Ngwa began cleaning homes in the Richmond area in 2013 when her services were recommended to a fellow church member by her pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church. Although originally from Myanmar, Ah Char fled the country and its oppressive government when she was 18, moving to Malaysia where her sister worked as a housekeeper. It was in Malaysia that she first learned to clean homes, working there for four years until she immigrated to the United States in 2009 under refugee classification. Ah Char describes her life in Malaysia as compared to the US as two disparate experiences: in Malaysia, “I wasn’t able to go anywhere because I was scared,” but now “I feel very free.” With this newfound freedom, Ah Char hopes to expand her cleaning business to serve more clients and hire additional employees. “I feel so happy when I can help people who aren’t able to clean their own homes make everything clean and shiny.'“ Aside from the pride Ah Char takes in helping homeowners to clean their property, the desire to give back to families in both her local community and in her home country of Myanmar also drives her to provide professional cleaning services and hardworking employees to those living in Richmond.


A Volunteer Reflects on the Afghan Wellness Group

A Volunteer Reflects on the Afghan Wellness Group

I have been volunteering with the Afghan Wellness Group for the past couple of months. The group meets for about two hours every other week with the purposes of learning from one another and building community. With the help of volunteers, childcare is provided, making the meetings an excellent opportunity for adult time. Goals are established based on the interests of the group. 

One of the goals of the Afghan Wellness Group is English language learning. To facilitate this goal, our most recent meeting took place at the Glen Allen library. Those who attended the group signed up for their own library card if they did not already have one. In addition to receiving a card, they learned about library resources, one being free access to the Rosetta Stone app, which all participants downloaded. At the end of our time together, one of the women expressed that as a busy mother, the app is a realistic tool to help her practice English because it’s easily accessible on her phone and can be used in short intervals throughout the day. 

 I found our meeting at the library to be empowering, as the women came away with access to a wonderful community resource and an English language tool that they can use independently and often. While the Afghan Wellness Group is relatively new, the mutual respect and appreciation established among group participants and volunteers has set a wonderful tone. I believe the group will continue to grow and thrive with each meeting!

—Emily, a ReEstablish Richmond volunteer


ReR at Dominion Energy's Diversity Scholarship Program Days

ReR at Dominion Energy's Diversity Scholarship Program Days

One week ago, ReEstablish Richmond’s executive director, Kate Ayers, spoke on a panel of community organizations as a part of the Diversity Scholarship Program Days at Dominion Energy. This event was held for summer interns at Dominion Energy who had both qualified to apply and earned the Diversity Scholarship by “demonstrating strong academic achievement and a commitment to diversity and inclusion”. One part of the scholarship was an “enrichment opportunity” where interns were given the task of planning community outreach projects in small groups. Kate’s role in this project, along with five other representatives from nonprofit organizations, was to discuss their experience serving their community based on the following questions:

  1. What are the biggest misconceptions about community engagement and the work you do?

  2. What has been the biggest challenge your organization has faced?

  3. What has been your most rewarding experience in working with the community you serve?

  4. Why is diversity important in developing empowering community programs?

  5. What advice do you have for those seeking to be community change leaders?

Their answers helped the students navigate the sometimes challenging field of nonprofit work as they began to plan their local outreach endeavors. Afterward, the floor was opened up for the interns to ask Kate and the other panel members more specific questions about their previous work and future goals. 

This event provided not only valuable information for the diverse group of students beginning to plan their own community programs, but also allowed the five organizations to reach an audience that could potentially support their current projects in the Richmond community in a variety of ways.

Learn more about Dominion Energy’s Diversity Scholarship Program: https://careers.dominionenergy.com/content/Diversity-Scholarship/?locale


Sadie Rogerson, Intern

Freeman High School 2020

Reflections: Being an Intern at ReEstablish Richmond

Reflections: Being an Intern at ReEstablish Richmond

During my time as a community engagement intern at ReEstablish Richmond I was able to learn about the administrative side of running a small scale NGO. I had been exposed to the direct service and volunteer side of working with people in the refugee community but never what happens behind the scenes. This experience allowed me to better understand all that goes into working directly with clients, planning events, and managing volunteers in a way that makes clients feel as though they are part of the ReR family. 

With only five staff members, ReR is able to work with over 600 clients so that they can establish roots, create community, and become self sufficient. This takes a lot of coordination, volunteer engagement, community engagement planning, and communication, of which interns are a functioning part. What stood out to me about the ReR intern program was how much impactful and practical work I was allowed to do, rather than “normal intern tasks” like paperwork, making copies, or grabbing coffee. The staff at ReR ensured that I was informed on what was happening within the organization and the communities they work with while giving me jobs that would not only benefit their organization, but also teach me about volunteer coordination and NGO management.

One task in particular that helped me grow in my understanding of their work was creating a Living Our Values Toolkit. This was a document that included the ReR values as well as information about why the language used by everyone associated with ReR matters. ReR staff, volunteers, and interns are taught to address clients using person-first language, ensuring that they portray their clients first and foremost as who they are: people. This made me more conscious about how I speak about members of resettled communities and how my words portray my own values as well as the values of ReR. 

At my time with ReR I was given the opportunity to grow in my knowledge of NGO administration and my understanding of working with our newest neighbors. ReR gave me the tools to take on tasks that I was unaware I could handle, in a way that made me feel challenged at times but always confident in my abilities and potential. I value all that I was able to learn at ReR, as it supplied me with important tools for going forward in my work with members of resettled communities. 

By Elizabeth Murphy

McGill University, Class 2021


Storytelling for Radio: a Workshop in Bringing the Past to Life

Story written by Jennifer Weatherly, ReR volunteer

Stories tend to start in fragments—with moments, and details. Every time you hear a podcast, for example, you’re hearing the essential thread of many hours of thought, note taking, and mental and emotional preparation, all of which sprout from the seed of a small idea.

 

In January, a few members of the refugee community had the opportunity to dive into this process at the Community Idea Stations (WCVE). A workshop called Storytelling for Radio gave each attendee the space to flex his or her creative muscles, and to work with a mentor from the station to practice sharing personal stories about their lives and cultures. Led by podcast producer Angela Massino and senior producer Catherine Komp, the workshop served as a taste of an in-the-works podcast called Resettled, and a chance to encourage speakers with the idea of possibly being part of it in the future.

 

Over the course of a day at the station, the group began by listening to powerful examples of podcasts about others’ reflections on their culture and resettlement in the U.S. “My Garden,” an episode of Jungala Radio, and an episode of Feet in 2 Worlds both struck a chord with the group; the stories’ blend of music, ambient sound and story made their narratives poignant and memorable.

 

These examples served as inspiration for the interactive part of the workshop. Everyone then circled around to practice a series of vocal exercises; following that, to speak with an assigned mentor about what kind of story each person would tell based on one of a series of prompts. These prompts—questions of culture, work, education, family, and the process of arriving in the U.S.—reflected the central theme of Resettled, which is ultimately going to recount refugees’ stories of adjusting to life in Virginia and coming to terms with their new lives.

 

What ultimately results from this project and Resettled is yet to be seen, but the heart of the workshop was easy to see: that is, how meaningful the details are to our lives, and how important it is to recognize them. True, major occurrences—a death, a loss, a cataclysmic event that leads to having to seek asylum—are what change our lives. But the small parts—a favorite meal, a morning ritual—added together are what make a life complete. When they are missing, when they are lacking, we notice; their presence means the world to us.

 

The stories told during the workshop, and the examples that the leaders shared, reaffirmed that, even when your whole world has been upended, you are still essentially you, and what you remember or bring with you says so. What you remember, and what you seek to recreate, illustrates what is truly important.

 

These are the kinds of stories that the workshop attendees sought to tell, and that Resettled will continue to let unfold. This current wave of podcast popularity is not without cause, after all: it’s a sort of ancient-meets-modern mode of storytelling that resonates with us because it’s immersive. For the refugee and international community in particular, it’s a way to give individuals’ past and present lives room to breathe. It’s a path toward helping people feel at home no matter where they are, even for just a few minutes. And it’s a means of coming to a better understanding of one another, especially when we feel disparate or too different.

 

At ReEstablish Richmond, we’re looking forward to sharing more of these kinds of stories soon. Watch for updates through our newsletter each month! Because the refugee community’s stories are the heart of our work here, sharing them is what helps us keep growing and staying involved throughout Richmond.

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ReR offers permit classes in three different languages in 2019!

ReR offers permit classes in three different languages in 2019!

This winter we are offering Learner’s Permit preparation to 3 different classes, interpreted into 3 different languages, in 3 different locations across Richmond. It’s definitely a team effort! We are so full of gratitude – to the volunteers, interns, and staff who devote their time and energy to organizing, driving, and caring for children – to the interpreters who ensure clear communication between the teacher and students – to the community partners who generously donate space for us to meet and study. Together we are helping newcomers connect to their wider community and move toward transportation independence! Thank you to our partners at Westminster Presbyterian Church , CrossOver Healthcare Ministry, and Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond's Historic Fan District! Coming this spring: Our first class in Spanish at Sacred Heart Center.

Arabic Class at Crossover Healthcare Ministry

Arabic Class at Crossover Healthcare Ministry

Swahili class at Tabernacle Baptist Church

Swahili class at Tabernacle Baptist Church

Dari class at Westminster Presbyterian

Dari class at Westminster Presbyterian

Virginia passes a resolution to recognize World Refugee Day

ReEstablish Richmond is grateful to Delegate Debra Rodman and Stephen Allen from International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville and Richmond for writing a resolution that will make World Refugee Day official in the state of Virginia! Thanks to their efforts, the resolution passed! Thank you, Delegate Rodman, for making Virginia a more welcoming place for refugees. We plan on celebrating this new designation at our World Refuge Day Community Resources Fair in June. For more information, go to : https://www.reestablishrichmond.org/world-refugee-day-2019/

ReR Director Kate Ayers, Delegate Rodman, and IRC Director, Stephen Allen

ReR Director Kate Ayers, Delegate Rodman, and IRC Director, Stephen Allen

Talent for Good

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Talent for Good

ReR was recently selected to participate in Carmax’s Talent for Good program. We are grateful to our Corporate partners for sharing their expertise with us!

Here is a little bit about the program:

The product teams at CarMax love solving problems and crafting delightful experiences for our customers. Through CarMax’s Talent for Good program, the team partnered up with Reestablish Richmond, and guided the organization through an interactive session with a focus on better understanding of their donors and volunteers. We are really excited to see how they will put these discoveries to work and improve the experiences of their users!

https://www.carmax.com/about-carmax

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Kamili: Small business+Empowerment=Full Circle

Kamili: Small business+Empowerment=Full Circle

Thank you, Britta and the makers at Kamili!

ReEstablish Richmond volunteer, Britta Kelley, worked with Gorette as her mentor for almost a year when she came to us with a business idea.

“Gorette is losing her social services benefits due to time limitations and I don’t know how she will pay rent with just her factory job income as a single mom. I want to do something to help,” said Britta.

That is how Kamili was born. Kamili is new local business that employees members of the refugee community to make bracelets.

A year later, Re-Establish Richmond received its first donation from Kamili to support our community engagement program.

When sending the donation, Kelly said, “This is so fun being able to make $ for the people we love and want to support. I'm super emotional about this. All of the hard work getting Kamili off the ground is finally paying off! “

To learn more about the Kamili story and the people to make the bracelets:

https://richmondmagazine.com/news/sunday-story/a-strand-of-hope/

To buy Kamili Bracelets:

https://shopkamili.com/

Welcome Fest 2018

Welcome Fest 2018

Participants were greeted with energy and enthusiasm when they arrived at the Steward School on Saturday, September 22 for ReEstablish Richmond’s 2018 Welcome Fest. Featuring storytelling, dance, music, handicraft, cooking demonstrations, and language lessons, the fundraiser sought to highlight the cultures of the refugee and international communities in greater Richmond.  A celebration of culture was indeed apparent as guests strolled down the front walkway to the beat of traditional drummers and into Welcome Fest.


Inside the lobby, vendors shared their crafts and wares for guests to explore. Hennafy painted intricate henna tattoos that (literally) sparkled, Mbarka’s Moroccan Cookies offered boxes of tasty treats, and Handmade by Kim offered unique, handcrafted jewelry designs. A Bhutanese dance demonstration at 2:30 p.m. opened a schedule of events that immersed visitors and volunteers alike in new experiences. Multiple outdoor yoga sessions invited deep breaths and loosened limbs. Individuals from the refugee community shared their stories with quiet audiences in the storytelling nook. Meanwhile, Mary’s Empanadas was a big hit on the terrace, serving up authentic Chilean artisan empanadas to hungry guests. 

Despite an overcast sky, it certainly did not rain on ReEstablish Richmond’s 2018 Welcome Fest. Through vendors, donations, the raffle, and the silent auction, ReEstablish Richmond raised nearly $6,000 and exceeded the board’s fundraising goal for the event. All of the proceeds support ReEstablish Richmond’s work serving the greater Richmond refugee community by building self-sufficiency. Thank you to all vendors, volunteers, and participants!


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Immigration as a Womxn's Issue at the Broad

Immigration as a Womxn's Issue at the Broad

What are we talking about when we talk about "sanctuary"? What is it like for refugees, asylees, and immigrants in Richmond? What does immigration have to do with feminism? 

These are some of the questions that were discussed at the Immigration as a Womxn’s Issue panel at The Broad on September 6th.

Kate Ayers, Executive Director of ReR, moderated a panel of experts on the issue: Delegate Debra Rodman who also serves as an expert witness in asylum cases, Leonina Arismendi from ICE out of RVA, Tamana Radmanish, participant in ReEstablish Richmond programs, and Lana Heath de Martinez, local advocate.

We are grateful to continue to be part of such important conversations!

Opportunity for All Grant

Opportunity for All Grant

ReEstablish Richmond is honored to be one of 47 organizations nationwide to receive a Starbuck "Opportunity For All" grant. We are excited about partnering with Starbucks employees to welcome our newest neighbors! #extrashotofgood.

Local Starbucks are already supporting refugees. On June 20, they hosted an "SIV Sips" program, inviting Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders to network with local veterans. In addition, they shared coffee with over 700 people at our Refugee Community Resources Fair on June 23, 2018. 

 

https://news.starbucks.com/facts/the-starbucks-foundations-2018-opportunity-for-all-partnerships

ReEstablish Richmond July 2018 Newsletter

Reflections of a ReEstablish Richmond Volunteer

Every week, ReEstablish Richmond has an army of volunteers who mentor families, make home visits, provide transportation to classes, and assist with childcare. Margaret Edds is one of these volunteers.

Margaret recently shared the following photo and said: "I'm continuing my tutoring with *Zahra. When we started meeting, she was illiterate in her native language - but now she has proudly read two books in English. Here she is!"

*Client name has been changed

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43rd Annual Richmond Greek Festival

43rd Annual Richmond Greek Festival

The 43rd Annual Richmond Greek Festival was held May 31 – June 3, 2018 at the Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Launched in 1976 as a small-scale fundraising event for the Richmond Children’s Hospital, the festival has grown into much-anticipated community attraction, bringing Richmonders together year after year to celebrate Greek culture and raise visibility of the Cathedral within the greater Richmond community. The 2018 festival featured numerous traditional dance performances, an indoor international marketplace, as well as a delicious variety of authentic Greek foods. To guarantee no one had an excuse to miss out, there was even a drive thru!

The festival does far more than just make our mouths water, however. It has stayed true to its founding mission and remained a remarkable way for the Cathedral to give back by donating proceeds to local charities. This year, ReEstablish Richmond was selected as one of those charities to receive a portion of profits from the event. Our executive director, Kate Ayers, was honored on stage and presented a check in the amount of $4,000. The donation will support our work serving the Richmond refugee community by connecting refugees to resources, opportunities, and working to ensure their transition is an empowering and positive experience. ReEstablish Richmond’s commitment to working in collaboration with community partners is exemplified by this pledge. Thank you to the Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral and the Richmond Greek Community!

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VCU Globe Storytelling Series:

VCU Globe Storytelling Series:

Introduction:

We are grateful to VCU Globe student, Luciano Cicero Legnini, for helping us tell the stories of the refugees and immigrants among us. Below is the story of a VCU student from Syria:

"I dream of Hiba"

The Syrian war has been an ongoing civil war since 2011 continuing still today, after almost 8 years of conflict Assad’s regime is using chemical weapons and horrific violence on his own people.

Born in Damascus Syria, Hiba Ahmed, her mother, and her 3 siblings travelled south across the border into Jordan and were processed into a large refugee resettlement camp called Zaatari in 2013. Hiba lived through the death of her father who was killed outside Homs, SyriaShe also saw many of her friends flee to Turkey and Lebanon. Hiba was in Jordan for 3 years before being interviewed for travel, where she and her family were lucky enough to be relocated to Belgium. While spending 2 years in Belgium she was given the opportunity to travel to the USA and attend VCU for a study abroad program that has allowed her to experience America for this semester before going back to her family and new home in Belgium. Hiba is grateful for the time she has spent in Richmond and is looking to come back here again one day. She is so proud to know of the efforts taken by the IRC and Reestablish Richmond in order to help families around the world experiencing struggles.

Swimming Day

Swimming Day

We had 12 ecstatic kids from Iraq and Syria because the St. Catherine's School swim team partnered with SwimRVa to provide swim lessons this past Sunday.

Thank you to St. Catherine's student Brucie Mish for making this project come to life! 

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Getting Together with the Community Street Fair

Getting Together with the Community Street Fair

We ended spring break with a Community Street Fair in an east end neighborhood refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia. Last Friday was a blustery but beautiful day full of excitement for the children – a real fire engine; free bike repairs by community police officers; creative activities by Arts in the Alley and Richmond Peace Education Center ☮ – and health and safety information for the adults – by the Henrico Health Department and VIEW program, Safe Kids Virginia, and RideFinders, Central Virginia. The local high school ESL teacher came, too! Neighbors talked and laughed together while sharing sweet treats from one another’s countries.

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