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Issue #30 - May 2019
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Lexington Refugee Assistance Program
LexRAP UPDATES
May 2019

 
The first and second Hand-in-Hand Café community dinners were both sold out successes!  Food was terrific!  The community comes together and eats family style with the cooks – currently women from the Middle East. The cooks get paid for their culinary skills and a side benefit of this project is that the women have gotten to know each other.  The June 15th dinner is almost sold out at Eventbrite. We plan to have monthly dinners in the Fall. LexMedia made a short video about the dinners – thank you Rick Dorrington!  The video is on the LexMedia and LexRAP and on YouTube at Hand-in-Hand Café.
Items of Note and Good News
 
Currently, we are helping people from Syria, Iraq, Uganda, and Jamaica. The people who arrived with refugee statue to the US, arrived mostly from refugee camps and after years in camps, the children have severely disrupted education and the parents need job retraining. Refugees currently get three months of financial and social service support from agencies paid by the Federal government. Asylum seekers get no help from the government - no food stamps or aid and have a period of time when they can’t work. During this time, they live in the homes of families with LexRAP (see Hosting below). We give these folks a small amount of money to pay for transportation and incidentals. Making good use of this waiting period and with some financial help from LexRAP, the asylum seekers have jumped into retraining and we have helped with the educational costs. LexRAP sees itself as an extension of resettlement agency and a helping hand to asylum seekers. We do what we can.

The refugee families and asylum seekers have achieved a great deal in the last year:  
  • All families have adults who are now employed.
  • Four have become US citizens.
  • One person has received status as an asylum seeker. One new baby born!
  • One went back to the country they had fled, to see family they had not seen in 20 years.
  • One family reunification, the parents and brother of the father of a family, have arrived from Syria.
  • One doctor got a medical fellowship.
All children making great strides in school.  All these events are joyous but point out the hurdles that have to be overcome and the hard road the families walk down.
More on Hand-in-Hand Community Dinners: We need volunteers on the day of the dinners to set up, clean up, baby sit and more. We need someone to manage PR and marketing. There are numerous opportunities for volunteering for these dinners both short term as well as long term overall management of the project. Contact Jilana.
Next Steering Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 30th at 7:00PM
Lexington Community Center, 39 Marret Rd

 
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.
ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP!
We still have a few urgent needs!
  • We are still looking for a few people who could do some driving for a 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 Don.
  • 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 with the ESL at IINE in Lowell
LexRAP funds this hugely successful monthly initiative.  People make, bring, and then share a homemade lunch to the ESL class at IINE in Lowell, sharing lunch and conversation with the ESL learners. Called, “Building Bridges One Meal at a Time.” Babs tells us that we've substituted SOUP for sandwiches. Perfect for these cold winter visits. You can sign up NOW. This is a great way to help refugee English Language Learners by sharing a bowl of soup and some conversation. Contact Babs for more info.


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.
Help us get this Newsletter to more people
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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