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Issue #31 - June 29, 2019
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Lexington Refugee Assistance Program

LexRAP UPDATES

June/July 2019


 
This newsletter has a lot about food!

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan was May 5th to June 4th. This is a month of reflection when neither water nor food passes the lips of observers who fast from sun up to sun down every day. At sunset there is an iftar – a breaking of the fast at the time of the call to prayer for the evening prayer.

First Parish teamed up with the Lexington Muslim community to offer an interfaith Iftar on Friday, May 31st. After the community building event when 400 people gathered on the Battle Green for a vigil for tragedy in New Zealand on the Lexington Battle Green and then at First Parish, many people said “why can’t we gather for something other than a tragedy?” In response, First Parish in Lexington hosted an Iftar for the Muslim community in Lexington with delicious food donated by Boston Kebab House. The 225 tickets for the evening were quickly taken and the church was filled from basement to rafters with those welcoming and those being welcomed.
 
Another tenet of Ramadan is giving to those in need. This is the Ramadan tradition of Zakat al-mal.  Mohammed Abdul Jaleel, President of the new Muslim American Cultural Center of Lexington asked LexRAP for the names of our families that needed a helping hand and invited them and Don and Fran Detweiler from LexRAP to the new center that just opened on Lowell Street for an Iftar at the end of Ramadan. The group graciously gave large monetary gifts to our needy families – Muslim and non-Muslim.  Again, the food was great and the building was packed with a smiling welcoming crowd. After prayers, the families received their gifts and said a few words of thanks and Don also spoke, thanking the Cultural Center and expressing hopes for future collaborations.

These wonderful events followed a Sunday when Muslims in Lexington stood in front of churches and greeted those entering morning services.  And that Sunday followed local churches banding together to  help pay for the additional security measures that are now needed at our town's synagogues.  All of these activities were about religious freedom and support for each other at a very local community level in the face of recent violence around the world and in the US at places of worship.

The LexRAP families witnessing these acts of community support for diversity have been very meaningful.  The events were powerful and touching to people coming from countries where religious freedom is hard to find.
Next Steering Committee Meeting

Tuesday, July 23 at 7:00PM
at Church of Our Redeemer
6 Meriam Street in Lexington (use side door)

Please come a few minutes early, as we always start the meeting on time.
 
Steering meetings are open to all who are actively working on LexRAP projects or for those curious to understand more about what LexRAP is doing and finding a way to help. If you are not getting email invites to Steering meetings and would like to contact Don.

 

More Hand-in-Hand Community Dinners in the Fall!

As we have said, the three dinners this Spring were all huge successes – all sold out.  We have three dates for the Fall.

  • September 21
  • November 23
  • December 21


All will be hosted again at 1st Parish Church in Lexington.  A fabulous video about Hand-in-Hand was created by Rick Dorrington with LexMedia can still be enjoyed HERE on YouTube.

Stay tuned to our Website to find out when ticket sales begin.

By the way, we are proud to announce that LexRAP received a grant from the Community Endowment of Lexington, an endowed fund of the Foundation for MetroWest, to promote and sustain the Hand-in-Hand community dinners. These dinners are an important way for our refugee and asylee cooks to supplement their income and learn about the food service business.
if you would like to help with this project, volunteers are needed on the day of the dinners for set up, clean up, baby sitting and more.  This is a really fun job! There are numerous opportunities for volunteering for these dinners both short term as well as long term overall management of the project. 
Contact Jilana.

 

Temple Isaiah Fundraiser Dinner for LexRAP 
will be held again at Temple Isaiah in Lexington on October 27th 2019 .  Last year the event sold out and was both fun and delicious.  We're planning to have Middle Eastern food again with perhaps some Ugandan surprises!  We'll be adding live music and some interesting stories about our activities over the past year. If you want to volunteer to help on the day of the dinner Contact Laura.
 

 

ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP
Still urgent need!
 
  • We are still looking for a few people to help do some driving for a wonderful refugee family in the Concord area - contact Donna
ARE YOU AN ENGLISH SPEAKER WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN ARABIC?

ARE YOU AN ARABIC SPEAKER WHO WOULD LIKE TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH?
Well, we would like to introduce each of you to one another! If there’s enough interest, LexRAP will connect you with a corresponding member of our LexRAP community and provide you with an opportunity to share the knowledge of your own language, while at the same time learning how to improve your skills in the other language. Please let us know if you’re interested. Contact Nassma.
  • Please consider Donating to Family Reunification Fund. We are raising money to help the refugees we are involved with be re-united with their families.  We have people who have become US citizens or received their Green Cards and for whom it is finally safe to travel to their country of origin and folks waiting for the US government to allow their immediate family into the US. The cost of their travel to the US will be expensive. Others have children born in refugee camps or in the US who have never met grandparents and other relatives. And for still others, the only way to see their family is to meet in a neutral country since they can’t return to their country of origin.  All of these costs are beyond their means.  For all these reasons, we have started a Family Reunification Fund.  We have already purchased plane tickets for two trips to Jordan and Iraq. One was for a mother to see her husband and long-separated children, the other for a family medical emergency. If you would like to donate to this fund, please CLICK HERE. Put the fund name on your check or along with the on-line donation.
     
  • Hosting - Do you have an extra room?  Currently we are hosting four  asylum seekers. The rules around applying for asylum in the United States have changed and the wait to get asylum keeps getting longer. This problem exists here in New England – not just at our Southern border.  All of this translates into people who are seeking asylum needing financial help and housing.  LexRAP families have opened their homes to individuals and LexRAP has provided financial support for these folks until they can legally work.  If you have an extra room and can provide housing for an asylee we will first introduce you to someone who has hosted an asylee and explain the process. If interested in exploring this much needed and wonderful way to help, please contact Bruce.
LexRAP continues to collect Laptops!
It’s a way to search for services or a job, communicate with teachers, prepare for citizenship exams, complete school assignments practice English, or stay in touch with friends and family.
Most of LexRap’s families qualify for very low-cost internet access for $10/month, but they need devices! Beyond the families we are directly supporting, we give laptops to students in families through resettlement agencies. Does your company retire laptops after a few years of use? Is someone in your life getting a new laptop? Consider donating the old one. Maybe you have an unused laptop taking up space? Consider donating it!  Would your church or synagogue or school or scout troop like to organize a laptop drive (similar to a coat drive)?

The description of units that we can refurbish is here (scroll down). Make sure to tape passwords to the laptop so we can access and wipe information. Contact Peggy for drop-off locations or contact Peter for technical questions.
Providing a home for an unaccompanied refugee minor.  Do you have room in your heart and space in your home to become a foster parent to an unaccompanied minor? These children tend to be teens and are resilient. If you become a foster parent to a refugee minor, LexRAP will put a network of support together to help. Contact Bruce to learn more about this program.
 
More Tutors and Social Workers!   We have had the extraordinary luck to have experienced teachers as tutors and this has worked very well.  We appoint a social worker as the lead and that person stays in touch with the school and coordinates as well as helps the family navigate communication with the school. We have found that the needs for the children with disrupted education are less about spoken language than basic education and also that vocabulary and reading are essential needs to help the children catch up – which the children do rapidly. Contact Elizabeth.

Monthly Lunch Program
“Building Bridges One Meal at a Time.” 

LexRAP funds this hugely successful monthly initiative. People make, bring, and then share a homemade lunch at an English Language Learners class at IINE, a resettlement agency in Lowell.  This is an excellent opportunity to get involved with LexRAP by sharing lunch and conversation with the ESL learners.   We will be resuming the lunches in the Fall.    Contact Babs for more information and to sign up for one of the monthly lunch events.

LexRAP's Sustained Giving Initiative
LexRAP's Sustained Giving Initiative is a way to give monthly and we have had several people sign up to be Sustaining Givers. Individuals can now go online at our website and give a little or a lot, automatically every month. You can find our postal address if you are using a check, or our Paypal link if you prefer to make your donation online.
LexRAP OUTREACH!  
LexRAP also welcomes the opportunity to do presentations at churches, temples, senior citizen communities, and other organizations. We welcome suggestions and invitations to present. We typically provide a 20-minute PowerPoint introduction with Q&A to help educate and engage people around refugee issues and to discuss what LexRAP is doing to assist asylum seekers and refugee families locally. Please contact Tom if you would like us to visit your group or congregation.
 
EVENTS AND AGENCY CONTACT INFO
 

Denovo (formerly called CLSACC) provides free civil legal assistance and affordable psychological counseling for people with low incomes. ASYLUM: Immigrants who have fled their home country because of past persecution or fear of persecution because of race, religion, gender, nationality, social group or political views may be eligible to apply for asylum. Denova has free walk in legal clinic where people can talk to immigration lawyers on the 3rd Wednesday from 5:15 to 7:15PM. https://www.denovo.org/


Household Goods
Provides a full range of donated furniture and household items, free of charge, to help people in need make a home. Staffed by volunteers, depends on the generosity of community members for goods, time and financial support. Please support us so that together we can continue to help people make a home during their time of greatest need. https://householdgoods.org/

Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) Project provides free legal services to asylum seekers and promotes the rights of detained immigrants.
Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program (HIRC), in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services has focused on direct representation of individuals applying for U.S. asylum and related protections. https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/clinical/clinics/harvard-immigration-and-refugee-clinical-program/

International Institute of New England (IINE) Resettles refugees in Lowell, Manchester and elsewhere in N.E. and offers on-going services such as ESL and support. A lot going on!  Suitcase Stories, Annual Gala and more. https://iine.org

Catholic Charities has been providing services to refugees for more than 100 years. https://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/our-ministry/immigration-refugee-services/

Ascentria resettles refugees and is the only agency that resettles unaccompanied minors in New England. https://www.ascentria.org/

NuDaySyria focuses on women and children and brings humanitarian aid inside Syria and to displaced Syrians in the bordering areas around Syria. http://www.nudaysyria.net/

Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM) One of the few organizations to provide support to asylum seekers.  Volunteer opportunities for mentors and ESL teachers. http://www.r-i-m.net/

A local group continues to raise money to pay for a family to be sponsored for emigration to Canada. LexRAP is focusing on helping the mother and children who are currently here and have been granted asylum. The father and other children remain in Jordan, separated from the family in the US.  To donate follow this link.
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Please tell anyone you know who cares about the fate and well-being of the thousands of refugees currently living in our area about LexRAP to learn about the work that we do. Subscribe here.
 
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LexRAP · 3 Jeffrey Terrace · Lexington, MA 02420 · USA

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