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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We Love IT!

We Love IT!

Community member Bob Webb attended a ReEstablish Richmond Volunteer Orientation, the first step to becoming a volunteer, and answered the call for IT support. Bob used his personal connections to bring David Hair and Richard Lockwood into the fold. Both David and Richard consulted remotely and offered thorough step-by-step troubleshooting suggestions. Richard joined us in the office for just a half-day of diagnostics, solving our server / client connectivity problem that had vexed many IT professionals for months. We are forever indebted to Bob, David, and Richard for their valuable time and dedication. 


Check out Richard and David, and keep them in mind for your IT needs!

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rpjlockwood/
https://www.capitolmac.com/

ReEstablish Richmond March 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.
Daniel Klein is one of these volunteers. What follows are his thoughts on why he chooses to devote time to working with ReEstablish Richmond.

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I began working with a family from Bhutan a little over a year ago in a burst of activist momentum following the 2016 Presidential election. I had been searching for a way to get directly involved with local refugees and this family welcomed me in. The parents, their three daughters, and the family matriarch were still struggling after a year in the States.

The language barrier was incredibly steep at the beginning, but once we settled into a routine the confusion was replaced with laughter, and now I'm just the American older brother that visits once a week. Over the last year the family finally received permanent residence status in the US, welcomed a newborn boy, and the mother's English has improved dramatically.

Spending time together isn't just me helping them get their feet on the ground, though. Each week is a new exercise in humility and gratitude as I am reminded how fortunate I've been to grow up in this country with the resources and opportunities I've enjoyed. This wonderful family has taught me far more about myself than I could've expected.

ReEstablish Richmond February 2018 Newsletter

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REFUGEE

RVA Mag writer, Landon Shroder, shares the stories of the Congolese Community living here in Richmond. If you have not seen this yet, it is worth reading. A special thanks to Leslie Saul, refugee volunteer, for helping make this story happen!

https://rvamag.com/news/community/rva-mag-31-refugee.html


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. Patricia Outland is one of these volunteers. What follows are her thoughts on why she chooses to devote time to working with ReEstablish Richmond.

I have always wanted to give back to the country that embraced my 15 year old grandmother, who arrived in NYC in 1915. A few years later, now married, her husband died, leaving her alone with 2 girls under 4. She made her way as a single mother shoveling coal into furnaces, cleaning tenement floors, hauling garbage, cooking, whatever it took to survive with them. She also became, with much pride, an American citizen.

Re-Establish Richmond gave me the opportunity to give back by referring me to an Afghani couple, Nazir, a US citizen, and his wife Masoda, a permanent resident seeking her citizenship. They had filled out a wrong form in the process for her and I met them to complete the right one. I was struck by Nazir's self-confidence and his facility with English and by Masoda's quiet presence. After finishing the forms, we met a week later to check on the packet. One document was missing and Nazir returned home to get it. After a few awkward moments Masoda and I began to talk. Real talk, girl talk, a "get" down schmooze. Beauty and make-up. Masoda is a makeup artist and showed me pictures of her "work," including her very American movie star looking sister. Then, we looked at pictures of her father and her siblings, including a 2 year old baby boy. Masoda's mother died after this baby was born. Masoda is 4 months pregnant, missing her mom more than ever. She has Nazir's very supportive kin here. But, it is not her mom. In a moment of silence we both began to tear up and looked at each other across the wide table that was like a symbolic cultural divide that separated us. However, we both found instead shared, tender, human territory, just on the cusp of those tears.

It does not get any better than this. Thank you, Re-establish Richmond.
-Pat Outland

Refugees and International Students Come Together

Refugees and International Students Come Together

Luciano Legnini is a student at VCU Globe and has worked with ReEstablish Richmond this past semester and would like to share one of her experiences 

Richmond is the city of a thousand international homes. It has people coming from all over the globe who leave their home in search of better futures. Located in the heart of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) consists of a large population of international students who leave home in pursuing a higher education in Richmond. Although not nearly in the same circumstances, many refugees from around the world are also coming to Richmond in hope of building their home away from home. With the support of many partnering agencies, including ReEstablish Richmond, refugee families are able to establish roots and become self-sufficiency living in the city.


            One of the many services that ReEstablish Richmond provide is a special program where the two populations, refugee and international students, coming together as one. The program where international students volunteer as soccer facilitators to help refugee children find an outlet, be healthy and make new friends by playing sports. ReEstablish Richmond and their volunteers teach the children basic soccer skills, teambuilding skills, and simply have fun. The program is held once a week on Wednesday evenings at Harold Macon Ratcliffe Elementary School.

One of the volunteers from VCU, Said Mansor Sadat, who is an international student from Afghanistan, claims that this program is “potentially life-changing”.  Sadat explains, “While I was teaching these kids the game I love so dearly, I have learned a lot from them too! They have taught me the sport as more than a game, but more so, learning this universal language that can be communicated anywhere in the world.” Sadat also speaks of the other activities where he and the children make blankets for winter. He recalls a moment of joy as the children gave him a blanket that they made for him.

Through supporting the refugee population in learning, team working, and having sportsmanship, ReEstablish Richmond is building a brighter future not only for refugees in Richmond but for the future for an inclusive community.

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ReEstablish Richmond December 2017 Newsletter

Reflections of a ReEstablish Richmond Vounteer

Every week, ReEstablish Richmond has an army of volunteers who mentor families, make home visits, provide transportation to classes, and assist with childcare. Rachel Saffron is one of these volunteers. What follows are her thoughts on why she chooses to devote time to working with ReEstablish Richmond.

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I moved to Richmond a little over a year ago from East Tennessee. People always ask me why I made such a big move as an unmarried twenty four year old....“Did your job bring you here?”  “Oh, you must be a student.” The truth is I came here to work with refugees; to help them in any possible way that I can. I wanted to be their friend and to help them acclimate to life in America. 

I started volunteering with ReEstablish Richmond on a weekly basis in January 2017. On Thursday mornings I pick up Afghan ladies at their homes to take them to driving class. While they are in class I get to take care of their children. We play outside on the playground when the weather permits, and the adults are able to study the driver’s manual in a group setting, uninterrupted. After six weeks of classes, these clients visit the DMV to take the Learners Permit test. Some pass the test. Some do not. It’s always such a joyful time when a client passes their permit test. They are so happy! I get to celebrate with those who pass, but I am also able to comfort those who do not. 

Before I started working with ReEstablish, I would have thought, ‘No big deal...they can just take the test again.’ True, they can take it again, but it IS a big deal to them. I try to put myself in their shoes. How would I feel if I was placed in a strange land, with little ability to communicate, and things just aren’t going as planned? I would be expected to find a job, a place to live, a place to worship, and most likely learn how to drive. If one of these tasks doesn’t happen in a timely manner I would feel  incapable, unaccomplished, and so alone. 
I imagine our refugees feel this way some days. Luckily, they have ReEstablish Richmond to give them encouragement and a helping hand. 

Spending time with refugees has made me a little more selfless and sacrificial. I don’t know what my life would look like if I had stayed in Tennessee, but I’m so glad I moved to Richmond. 

Giving Tuesday 2017

Giving Tuesday 2017

Today is the day! Happy #givingtuesday
 
YOU are an integral part of enabling refugees to become self-sufficient and achieve their dreams. We urgently need your help to continue our vital programs. 
 
Donate in honor of Giving Tuesday on our Facebook page or on our website atwww.reestablishrichmond.org/donate

ReEstablish and Lush working together

ReEstablish and Lush working together

This past spring, ReEstablish Richmond was the first organization in Virginia to partner with Lush's Charity Pot Program. On October 28th, ReEstablish Richmond worked together with Lush to bring awareness to the Refugees and Immigrants in the Richmond area.  Lush is a natural handmade and fair trade cosmetic company that funds charities in unique and creative ways.  ReEstablish Richmond and Lush share the common bond of being hands on and helping however and whenever we can. ReEstablish Richmond was proud to sell its limited release branded moisturizer. Profits of the sales of this moisturizer will go back into Lush's Charity Pot.  We were pleasantly surprised to have a packed house and a very successful day with this event. Everyone had fun trying out all of the products and learning about how they can help refugees in their local area. For more information about Lush's Charity Pot program, you can visit: https://uk.lush.com/tag/charity-pot. 

 

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ReEstablish Richmond October 2017 Newsletter

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Peace Begins at Home

We love finding new ways to connect the Richmond community with the refugees who live right here among us, and what better crowd than folks and families gathered to promote peace, understanding, welcome, and diversity?

ReEstablish Richmond was honored to be among the vendors at the 13th annual Richmond Peace Festival on Sunday, October 1. The recurring theme of the festival is “Peace Begins at Home.” This year’s event was held at St. Joseph’s Villa, at the corner of Parham and Brook Roads, a welcoming venue with plenty of room to grow.

Under sunny skies and within earshot of the cultural, musical arts happening onstage, our volunteers and staff shared the ReR story of connecting refugees to vital resources in the community in order to promote self-sufficiency. We introduced ourselves to new friends and greeted familiar faces, too. Attendees of all ages were invited to pause and color a peace magnet at our coloring table.

We hope you’ll join us at the Richmond Peace Festival next year – it’s fun, and family-friendly, and FREE! ReEstablish Richmond is already dreaming of ways to introduce our refugee friends to this event in the future.

Thanks so much,

Laura Jones
Refugee Outreach Coordinator

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Reflections of a ReEstablish Richmond Vounteer

Every week, ReEstablish Richmond has an army of volunteers who mentor families, make home visits, provide transportation to classes, and assist with childcare. Tom DeWeerd is one of these volunteers. What follows are his thoughts on why he chooses to devote time to working with ReEstablish Richmond.

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I was told that volunteering would be rewarding... sounds like a cliché, right? Well, I didn’t start out wondering what I could gain but instead asked the question: what can I offer? I attended the ReEstablish Richmond volunteer training and accepted the challenge of lending a hand to someone coming to Richmond from a place about which I knew little.

My first venture, assisting a Bhutanese man to study for the DMV driving test, was an adventure for both of us. I didn’t know where Bhutan was on a map, and I certainly could not have gone there and taken a test in his native language. This 57 year-old man spoke five languages but worked hard to make a living to support his family working part-time in the laundry room of an upscale hotel chain. I was impressed with his energy, positive outlook, and willingness to learn so much about our culture. While he learned, I too discovered much about my values.

Currently mentoring a young man with a growing family from Afghanistan, I find much I can offer about life in the Richmond area that I take for granted. The use of our libraries, basic driving directions, and navigating forms for insurance and government agencies are simple examples. Helping in little ways and making a positive difference for this family immigrating to America is easier than I anticipated. I have entered a new stage of development in life since retiring... and the cliché — yes, predictably — has proven correct: volunteering is rewarding!

Peace Begins at Home

Peace Begins at Home

We love finding new ways to connect the Richmond community with the refugees who live right here among us, and what better crowd than folks and families gathered to promote peace, understanding, welcome, and diversity?

 

Community Survey: Health in Henrico County

Community Survey: Health in Henrico County

Did you know that the majority of refugees in the Richmond area are being resettled in Henrico County? ReEstablish Richmond believes that refugee voices matter and that they add value to the greater community. That is why ReEstablish Executive Director, Kate Ayers, sat in on Henrico County's Community Health Assessment, or "CHA".

Reflections of ReR's Summer Intern

Reflections of ReR's Summer Intern

As an anthropology and Arabic student at the University of Richmond, I came into this summer internship looking not only for chances to use my language skills, but also chances to strengthen my cross-cultural learning and communication abilities. I found both, and much more...

"A Taste of Afghanistan"

"A Taste of Afghanistan"

On December 6, 2016, ReEstablish Richmond hosted “A Taste of Afghanistan”, an event during which Afghan members of the community prepared eight incredible dishes and shared their experiences as refugees.